Saturday, June 23, 2012

Liar Bird

It looks peaceful enough,
But you know the trouble I've had with swans.

The water looks sleepy, if malarial
And the clouds drape themselves, laundered white and blameless
Over her placid face
In reflection.

One mustn't flinch
At tea.
One mustn't let things slither from one's sockets
While perched stiffly at sofa's edge
Discussing the weather.

I was a mother once myself
For a few minutes.
It was long enough for my heart to slip, like ink from a pen,
Scratched by another hand onto a page I can never retrieve.

Do you see my child
Rolling up from nightmares to bob, gray and sloughing,
Choked in the crook of the swan's white nanny-wing?

I do,
And I cannot bear it.

But let's walk down by the pond just the same.
You can ask me if I'm cold,
While winding yourself nervously in a cardigan.
We can chatter,
And flit across the surface like jesus bugs.

It looks peaceful enough,
This going on with things;
But each solstice,
When I elude the upstanding rotten knot of those who love me,
I am found naked--
Bloody from breasts to thighs,
Snapping the bones of the liar bird
Who stepped up on the bank to preen.

photograph by Margaret Bednar.  

for Real Toads photo challenge


hedgewitch said...

Scathing and complex, musical, damning and damned--the adjectives could roll on for quite awhile with this one. Swans always seem sinister when you evoke them, Shay, never more so than here. The third stanza is perhaps one of the truest I've ever read, and the final two are a combination punch to the heart. I almost wish this wasn't so good, because I know the pain it took to create it.

hedgewitch said...

Oops--meant the fourth stanza, about the mother thing. The third is also creepy good, but not the one I meant to reference.

cloudia charters said...

see, again, your opening gambit fascinates me like a bright shiny bauble. . . . to distraction. . . there's MORE?

Aloha from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

> < } } (°>

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oof! Reading this is like having one's soul gouged out with a blunt spoon... what aching observations about life, and allowing it to just go on, on, smiling on the surface and hiding all that dark pain underneath.

Susan said...

"But let's walk down by the pond just the same.
You can ask me if I'm cold,
While winding yourself nervously in a cardigan.
We can chatter,
And flit across the surface like jesus bugs."

O! O! This is the awe full ironic place to "rest" in this poem as you rake your tear-spiked eye lashes over this still seeming peace.

You use your words brilliantly. I am turned inside out and will suspect the uses of beauty for quite some time.

Lynn said...

Wow - the ending!

Heaven said...

I like the sinister and malarial undercurrents under the serene swanny waters. Great contrast of emotions specially with the last stanza ~

Happy Sunday to you ~

Mama Zen said...

Damn, girl. This is breathtaking and one of your best.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This IS one of your best! Loved "you know the trouble I've had with swans"....the tension in this just builds and builds. Love motherhood likened to scratching one's heart on a page one can never retrieve. Whoa! And your last two lines? quite possibly the best two lines ever written.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've written a poem I like more that this... think I'll just leave it at that.

Susie Clevenger said...

I agree this is one of your best. Such colors and agony in it...bravo

Hannah said...

Wow, Shay!! There's SO much going on here and the layers are impenetrable. I'm just surfacing on the inner-meaning held within this dark reflection!

HermanTurnip said...

Swans are the two-faced jackasses of the avian community. Not only will they attack you unprovoked, but one of 'em still owes me $20.

Sioux said...

"It seems peaceful enough." What a powerful line, in light of the rest of the poem.

This is such a dark, gorgeous poem, Shay. (I tried to post a comment earlier, but all I got was a little white hand, a yellow starbursty-like thing and a clicking noise...over and over and over. Damn you, Blogger!)

Helen said...

This poem is a reflection of the deep, dark, sleepy ominous looking water and the forest beyond ... I'm glad you chose this photograph. It suits you.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

The artist I feel this most resembles is David Lynch's work. That's a compliment. There is much secret and sordid far beneath the surface here, and it ain't at all pretty. Like ink out of a pen, indeed. This was sad and sinister, great job, Mosk

my heart's love songs said...

i'll never look at swans the same again!

damn, girl! powerful, evocative, sinister, sorrowful! definitely one of your best!

Margaret said...

We can chatter,
And flit across the surface like jesus bugs.

What an image. Just loved that. Not sure I understand the whole thing, but I know it reads beautifully outloud. I fear that I read a death by drowning of a child here, and the mother must go on and live life ... go on everyday as if everything was "normal"... drink tea, visit, chit chat, stroll gardens... as if a part of her isn't dead...

A funny thing about this photograph... I ran down to the dock and hurriedly balanced my camera on the railing to get the best focus. I was afraid the swan would fly away or swim out of the "perfect" position. It turned around slightly and I held my breath hoping it would face my way again. It did! Snap, snap, a few more shots. And then, off it turned again, and I thought "it will surely fly away now". But now it turned back towards me. ... I noticed it really wasn't drifting anywhere - just staying in place...

I then realized it was a decoy - attached somehow to a cable or something. Ha! But it does make a great photo! :)