Monday, July 26, 2021

Requiem for A Queen's Swan













Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

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 The wall beside the Queen’s pond was adept

at keeping undesirables out; swans

flew in and landed with their huge wing spans:

enough to break a man’s arm if unkempt.

The eldest woman on castle grounds sat

and watched them every day for silken hours,

her hair was white as snow, her eyes water

blue, as she sat and stroked a long-haired cat.

Her wildest prayers she would enunciate,

and her hands were painfully gnarled I guessed,

she believed transformation was reeling

its answers in the form of art quite late—

the swans were poets: spirits effortless

at self-love, where she had little feeling.

 

She wrote like the web and was very old,

of a spider’s haunt, the delicate dew

hung from each strand of her mind, not askew,

although her bun contained the wisps of cold.

Elegant swans hated the velvet hounds,

the populace thought they were causing war,

disastrous occurrences, even far

off prophecies had already been found

innocent by church theology, they

only predict the future, not cause it.

Merciless, blood hounds chased and arrested

miserable chaste birds and made them prey;

people of Poland were not opposed, writ

words given up, eating succulent flesh.

 

For swans are faithful creatures, dedicate

their lives to one spouse, and raise their cygnets

splashing into the waters, calm there met:

their words are harsh and hiss, relegated

to a library stack with fearsome beaks.

Habitual mornings are somewhat poor;

half past seven, they arrive asking for

breakfast. Their host in a house is the meek

Parish Priest, he put the swans under his

protection from twelfth century’s blood:

it is illegal to harm a swan, white,

black, or any colour—the webbed feet, a Liszt

in sleight of hand upon the keys, there could

be none other, the master, the maestro’s bride.

 

It is treason to hurt or maim molten

swans—played each key with firm finality

and to one soul it resounded teary

into eternity, her one stolen

perfume, that languishing fragrance of youth

when she brought a young blond runaway home

and let her sleep on the couch like a poem

for a few hours into morning. Uncouth,

we lifted our heads in the corn fields, dark

eyes watched a girl running in a sundress

until tears streamed down our faces, music

this beautiful is the texture of bark

on an oak tree, no longer are you less

for living vicariously, physic.

 

There is one remedy, lest you drive a

swan to its death. There are a host of tar-

black tutus that to the wood ballet barre

exact a pliƩ in sequence, a way

a candle in the wind’s brass bell rings it,

built up to its highest goals’ aptitude,

eventually dies in solitude.

She first bends supple, like a grey cygnet,

in imitation of the older cause,

wrinkled seeds, poets who have come before,

deep in the ground were rooted and flawless.

Spoken word grows to a thousand’s applause,

green Earth’s oldest tree could not be deformed,

subtle rejection grew its desert claws.

 

On the dun outskirts of society,

she had suffered every rejection known

to humankind, there was no more wind-blown

morality to impropriety.

Was she now oil or wine, the verse would look;

and the vineyard ran purple with royal

colours, the swollen grapes bursting from toil,

the ground was sandstone and red underfoot.

It was night; the young woman, olive tow’rd,

the sun’s star was far gone at eleven—

in cape, she rang the bell. There was silence.

She would come again, there would be power—

reciting by heart an emollient;

she would speak without seeing violence.

 

A swan’s concerted effort at swimming

is made to look quite effortless, seeming

a quiet glide through waters deep, reaming

at a classroom of old notions, dimming

lanterns with olive oil, lighting the way

by new commitments and new trust in love

that makes us human, singular above

dependency and mentoring our stay

on earth here for awhile: we are alive,

we felt pain, and knew what it was to be

swans and sacrifice for what we believed

in. We went hungry, were unrealized,

we fed the children of tomorrow, sea-

swept lives full of memories, now retrieved.  


Emily Isaacson
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Author's Note: 

Emollience adj. 1. Softening and soothing, especially to the skin. 2. Making less harsh or abrasive; mollifying: the emollient approach of a diplomatic mediator.

The Free Dictionary https://www.thefreedictionary.com › emollience