Saturday, August 29, 2009

Silent Saturday

Not Swans

I drive toward distant clouds and my mother's dying.

The quickened sky is mercury, it slithers
across the horizon. Against that liquid silence,
a V of birds crosses-sudden and silver.

They tilt, becoming white light as they turn, glitter
like shooting stars arcing slow motion out of the abyss,
not falling.
Now they look like chips of flint,
the arrow broken.
I think, This isn't myth-

they are not signs, not souls.
Reaching blue
again, they're ordinary ducks or maybe
Canada geese. Veering away they shoot
into the west, too far for my eyes, aching

as they do.

Never mind what I said
before. Those birds took my breath. I knew what it meant.

"Not Swans" by Susan Ludvigson, from Sweet Confluence: New and Selected Poems. © Louisiana State University Press, 2000.


  1. I read this yesterday too on the PHC poetry feed. It struck me then as beautiful and it strikes me again.

  2. 'Never mind what I said
    before. Those birds took my breath. I knew what it meant.'

    i adore those words...

  3. Oh this brings a lump in my throat. so beautiful...

  4. This is beautiful...thank you for posting it.

  5. I've been thinking about this since you posted it, Elizabeth.

    This is what we have to do, isn't it? The moments in my life that have felt most holy are also the most volatile, their memory most subject to reinterpretation & flattening. I've had to say that - I knew what it meant - over and over.

    Thank you so much for posting this poem.

  6. That was perfect. Thank you for posting it.



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