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.
. . . .