blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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Leda at Work in the World

As the season’s last fishermen stash sunspot
and shimmering bass in dull metal buckets,

I tow my two boys on one last loop around
the lake. Bait boxes, butts, and soggy branches

bump the slick bank. Offshore, a mute swan
thrashes the waves with wings half-spread,

its mate in wild orbit nearby. My sons ask,
What’s wrong with that bird? I point: Look—

It’s the fisherman. He anchors the shallows,
wrestling and cursing his snake-necked catch,

his hook piercing the swan’s bill. Breathless,
we gather on shore as rising gusts ruffle dark

water. Then, from among us, she strides past,
sheds her sandals, steps from shore. Thigh-deep,

she stills the bird in a deft embrace, works
the hook from its bill. Frees it. Swan and mate

wheel away as she climbs the bank, wrings
the lake from her clothes, bends and buckles

her sandals. Brown braids, sunglasses, stern
and shy, she turns from the lake edge, where

my sons, forgetting as boys will, seize up sticks
to beat back storm clouds in the water.  end

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