We have always compared ourselves to ugly ducklings.
After the swans had surrounded us
we headed home
Grabbed bicycles and adjusted helmet straps and
got back on the trail,
to land, smack dab eventually
in our kitchen
As if all of this had been nothing out of the ordinary.
“Did you put the cheese in the fridge.”
“We’ll wash those later.”
Plastic plates clattered in the sink.
I washed the sunscreen off my face, brushed
sand and grass off bare legs.
Darling did you see the swans?
I had never been so close to one
ever in my life
Let alone twenty of them.
A whiteness of swans
says the online encyclopedia (citation needed)
an exultation of skylarks, a doading of sheldrakes, a
(We are running out of words,
and these entries are proof
Someday we will discover a very small insect
and have to call it shark.)
When we first came upon them I was enchanted —
A whole whiteness of them!
Gilding the glassy surface of Spy Pond
these pale ballerinas with treble clef necks
snowy and copper-mouthed
I sat down on that rock to watch
and at that moment I would have said yes to anything
I thought they were a sign
A message to me, personally:
Why do you keep forgetting
Why don’t you leave the house
The swans glided toward us, the whole whiteness of them. Ducks and geese made room. I was replete
with a million yes-es
oh, anyone could have asked.
Have you ever seen a swan out of water?
As it takes its few wobbly steps
it straightens its treble clef neck, pulls its terrible head up high
and effectively becomes
an albino snake
wriggling in the breeze.
They stand there squonking, the whole whiteness of them
quivering in sandmuck
on tiny orange peel legs
They gorge themselves on
lake weeds, sharp and green
covered in mud and smelling of rot
What is this thing, you ask
how did this happen.
Squonk squonk squonk! the swans reply.
a thickness, an overjuiced bicep, all bulging, black eyes like angry ink spills
peering into your own, bill gaping
as if this were their dying wish,
as if this is all they had to say to you
get the fuck out
A hernia of swans, I suggest. An apocalypse.
You rinse the wine glasses and leave them to dry on the counter.
We change into pajama pants
and glance through stacks of DVDs
Outside, their wings are beating.
back into the lake.