Virginia Conn

She is keen for the swans
her face pressed to the window
as the bus winds the river shored road.
I first think she says swamp and look
for alligators along the banks
forgetting this is Southampton
and I'm on my way to the A&P.

Her accent makes it hard to understand
all she's learned about swans,
stars of her letters home. I picture
a land swan bare, possibly Aegean,
the wind temperate and lilting as her voice
as if wind teaches us to speak.

Her distress is more than they deserve.
I tell her swans are mean and cranky,
prone to nipping the hand that feeds them.
Their beauty is in their leaving,
the smooth glide of long wings across
the water, and one lifts off over palms
and gabled roofs to prove my point.

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The 2River View, 1_1 (Fall 1996)