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So Many Beautiful Swans

I had never seen a black swan.

Once in New Zealand,

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where the map of the sky

was as foreign as the map of the ground

and there were many animals and birds

I had never seen before,

I counted 26 black swans

with red bills

that swarmed to a very small girl

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in a red dress

the way ideas swarm to me sometimes -

elastic, textured -

and I am left to labor

with the tough fabric of words:

(really symbols with voices).

As I take them in, unfashioned,

they gather themselves quickly

into association

upon association

like the swans

that clustered with dark, quick

dignity around the little girl

who stood tall as a canna flower,

at the edge of a lake

as she offered all she had:

no question of fear

no astonishment

only wild satisfaction

that so many beautiful birds

would come to her

and she could feed them.