Reflections on a Swan

— Barbara Saxton


A swan’s reflection: regal, unreal,
mute elegance worth twenty measly mallards
or a dozen lesser egrets. Alone, aloof–
he skims the lake’s still mirror, a bulging wake
broadcasting cygnet symmetry.

Beauty, peace and purity swim near,
but my mind breast-strokes beyond all that
to Leda and her misogynist Zeus-bird.
I feel him clamp his snaky neck
around his female prey, clasp her roughly
to his torso with enormous pearl-hued wings,
then rape her, while cruel moonlight shoots
its brilliant silver on still water.

A turn-on, to be sure! But strange and violent passion
also frightens and appalls. Billowing white feathers,
well-toned body, fearsome black beak, strapping legs,
all orchestrated for loathsome seduction, trumpeting:
When you’re a star,
you can do anything you want!

Beware to all who dare to dip
a shapely toe in this Swan’s Lake.

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