Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Swan Girl

This isn’t the calm before, not storm, not rope dangled over the pier to the swimmer too bold for her own good. Not the drowned girl but the swimming one. The one whose mouth is red and open, teeth like the bleached shells of zebra mussels that litter the beach after every thaw. There is rain coming. Black line over South Manitou Island. This is the garden dark and the sky ruined with light. Sin like it doesn’t matter. That’s the ticket. That’s the grit between her teeth.

Meanwhile, the earth tilts toward erasure. Meanwhile the pier is buried beneath a shelf of ice. Two wedding dresses, a veil with sturgeon embroidered in the hem. A room filled with someone else’s things: model trains, Commodore 64, half-filled saucers of cream. Take everything. The snow has gone soft at the edges. The girl folds her wings and sings: the old life calved from the floe. Her son turns to her in his sleep, tucks his feet beneath her hip. Snow falls and falls outside the window and the Lake crumples at the edge, lacy dress matted with sand, with ice. The headless swan. The girl who swims and swims.  end  

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