Ann Keiffer

Swan, Walking

In the water, the swan…with its show of
alabaster feathers, sculpted neck, beak
of mandarin, and black Venetian mask…
is a creature of serene gliding grace. But
when the swan leaves the water, it leaves
all grace behind. No longer in its element,
the swan on land is ungainly, flat-footed,
tight-hipped, and heavy-forward-tipped.

I recognize myself in that awkward, dry-
walking swan. Some long ago, I left the
pond I knew, leaving behind any grace
I knew, urged toward some distant pond
I didn’t know and couldn’t name. I had
to make the trip, but with no map, no
destination, and my wings clipped, I am
ill-equipped for a cross-country trip. All
webfoot-webfoot, worthless-wing,
waddling, bulky walk, awkward thing.

A water creature struggling in dryness,
seemingly aimless, I forget I am a swan,
that I ever had grace. The familiar is far
behind me, but am I getting any closer
to what I don’t know? I am wearied,
utterly. A cry escapes me.
It is the sound of…a swan.
I stop     quiet     still     fully sensing.
I know now…wait…the wind will rise,
bringing with it the scent of water, leading
me from where I was to where I need to go.

Ann L. Keiffer
December, 2014

Thank you to Rainer Marie Rilke and David Whyte
for the swan metaphor and such inspiration

Image: Google


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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