A Poem is an Invitation

baby Remi in the duckweed

Words are like stones beneath my tongue; cold and colorless, incapable of comfort. The words which shimmer in Summer’s sun, that dance with joy upon the water, have quietly drowned. Even a brief life is better than no life at all. Even a paltry poem is better than silence. Even a difficult passage is better than stasis.

I used to be in love with words. I thought that they might heal me, but then I look up in the trees, see how the wind and sun plays the leaves like a lute and all my words grow still, in reverence. I used to write a lot of poems. They spilled from my heart like an overflowing vessel but now, when I look upon a flower filled meadow, the little birds gathering, or bathing from a pool on a boulder, my words evaporate. How to describe bliss? Who can explain the smell of Jasmine?

My heart is sad and heavy. Weighted, like the log I dragged through the woods to stand on the reeds to see my baby Remi who is gone now (I swear I do this on purpose. When I was a kid in school, my English teacher used all her red ink on my run-on sentences, and now I do it to be spiteful. No, I just like the way they run together. Cascading, I call it. If I taught English, I would find a creative way to praise.)

Remi was a long awaited cygnet. Last year the eggs failed to hatch. (My guess is someone ate them.) The year before, William&Lily produced a lovely brood of 6, with 4 survivors (Lily was drowned, by Daphnis the bully). Young swans rarely return home, but since their dad has left the pond, 3 of my babies have moved back in, and I am thrilled to see them thriving (they’re two now, but still my babies).

I don’t know why i’m telling you all this. I should start at the beginning.
When I first met William, the Alpha Swan of Mystic Pond (not its real
name. I want to protect my friends from curious troublemakers), he was
a young thing. His first love was Sophie, sweet and beautiful. They had
three cygnets, but one went missing, and so did Sophie. I’m guessing
a fox or coyote got them. William was so sad, I sat beside him while he
mourned. His grief was palpable, but he raised Ben & Mia alone (with a little help from the swan nanny), and when the time came for them to fly
away, a bit of my heart went with them.

It’s not often that a female swan arrives at the pond without a mate, but
Lily was an angel, descended from Heaven. Their love was immediate
and sweetly poignant. After four wonderfully happy years together,
countless photographs and four grown children, Lily disappeared
(right after I saved a young female swan from being drowned by
Daphnis, a cob who wanted to be King. An exquisitely beautiful bully).

This is Lily, preening. They’re always preening.

Enter Angel. She came from the pond across the road (and talked William into going back there, which I’ve had mixed feelings about. In some ways it’s a safer spot, in some ways not). She’d been attacked ~ a large piece of her bill is missing ~ bitten off, but she miraculously survived. A fighter, she instantly had my respect.

After losing track of William briefly, while he relocated (the ponds are separated by a busy road), I spotted them on a drive by, way back in the woods, out in the reeds, and I wondered how I’d ever get in that far to see them. I deemed it impossible. Not prudent (I’d just had surgery). I gave up on it. And then one day, one branch at a time, I laid a path through the woods, cut some thorny canes which tangled in my hair, made my way to the reed bed and there is Angel on her nest, like a queen on a royal throne. The thrill of it! And William, so happy to see me, throws his head back and snorts, proud and delighted.

William and Angel at sunrise

Most clutches have 6 eggs, at least, but after many weeks of waiting (checking every other day), Angel arrived with Remi between her wings.

Angel with Remi. The sweetest ride!

Words fail to describe my happiness. I loved her at first sight, like my own flesh and blood. I knew her life was delicate and fragile, and I had
every faith in her parents ability to protect her. The beginning of a young swan’s life, of any wild creature, really, is tenuous. Too cold, too wet, too hot, too hungry ~ so many factors can lead to a downward spiral. I believe Remi drowned in the thunderstorm. One of the turtles snapped her little foot, and she may have gotten by ok, but the wind and deepening water must have made it difficult to stay afloat. There’s no place for them to come out of the water to rest, as there is at William’s pond.

Yesterday, Angel came to me alone, William trailing, and I hoped that Remi was with her daddy, but not so. “What happened to my baby?” I said, and William lowered his head and then they “made hearts,” (i love their love, their courtship dance. Their necks make a perfect heart, as they face each other). It was so beautiful, so poignant.

Your heart is my heart

Many pairs split up over a “nesting failure”, but i hope their love survives. I love them with all my heart. I wish I could have been there to help them some- how, but I am not as wise a mother as Nature. She giveth, and she taketh away.

I don’t know why Remi didn’t, couldn’t survive. So many of us were rooting for her. I’ve stopped needing to know why. Not every question has an answer (I used to demand an explanation before I’d let go; a petulant 6 year old, or a dog chewing a ratty bone).

Everything we love, becomes a part of us forever. Every person, every creature, is a jewel in our heart, which time will polish like a precious stone, until the memory gleams so beautifully, we might have to look away. The words which were stones beneath my tongue have been warmed in love’s ever abiding light, and sharing them with you has eased my burden. For this I thank you. A poem is an invitation. A portal. A blessing. A talisman.

LBM 6/27/2012