I waddled ungainly as a swan once
over dirt roads in Montana

able to mimic the honking sound
but unable to lift off in grace.

I had befriended swans back east
beside my grandfather’s river

where I was I able to reach out to
touch beauty’s golden beaks.

In the first grade, I crafted a swan
and her cygnets out of clay —

my grandmother displayed these
on her dark-wood desk.

Once I saw dozens of swans rising
out of Three Mile Island

flying in unforgettable formations
carrying away radiation.

Swans often fly at 10,000 feet high
tangled up in jet engines.

Once a dead swan washed up on
our Thanksgiving Day shore.

Neighbors carried it off home —
cooked it for their feast.

Some have no sense of decency
— or swan-like decorum.

Still, swans symbolize purity
in a variety of cultures.

So, we fly on — trumpeting —
calling for recognition.

. . . .

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