(the phrase "damn the swans" first appeared in my poem "The Witch In Springtime")
"Damn the swans,"
I used to say.
They were soft as petals on the water,
And so hard my hatred.
I came from the muddy banks
Where the cat-tails grew--
I knew the knobby branch
And the stormy afternoon.
"Damn the crow,"
Said the housewives,
In fear for their clean sheets
And the shining white roofs of their sensible rides.
I would tap on their kitchen windows
Sudden and harsh with my beak--
Behold the broken dish--
And the mouths open without speech.
Damn the wide empty sky.
Damn the dawn
For the way it favors the beautiful.
I have grown blacker every spring
While dreaming of snow,
Unbroken and implacable.
Bless the one
Who broke the spell;
The one who whispered well, "You are beautiful...
Here...and here...and here."
The swans, by then,
Had turned first to gray stones and then to dust
Leaving only ripples on the surface
Like a broken mirror.