Variations on a Theme by Yeats
black swans on a pond
sprinkled with late autumn leaves
waiting for the freeze
▒ ▒ ▒
Easy to count the black swans on the pond
sprinkled with late leaves—they seek company.
The first arrives on the surge of its bow wave;
four others pass beneath the footbridge
in pursuit. Five, not fifty-nine. Why they
can’t migrate I’m not sure. I can, but don’t.
Perhaps it’s the seasons in a world that
seems too constant otherwise, every day
the same old news, same old wounds, the ones
hard to keep bandaged up. I haven’t
figured out what I’m seeking, but I’m glad
for the company of swans. You’d think they’d
leave. They likely would if they could, instead
of waiting with me for the pond to freeze.
▒ ▒ ▒
On cold, sunny days I walk the dirt road past this estate, making my nearly imperceptible bow wave in the world. I don’t know what I’m seeking, but certainly not company. I prefer my own, especially now my beagle lies confined at home by hip boot and collar to keep her from pawing the foot she scratched through fur and flesh down to bone. Is that the difference? I don’t have an itch for anything, yet I worry the wounds we inflict upon ourselves, the ones hard to keep bandaged up. Things I don’t need to tell you who are wearied lover by lover, who already know the trees are past their autumn beauty. On this duck pond sprinkled with late leaves, red-beaked black swans among the stones, silhouettes against the water-mirrored sky. Where I stand at the edge, one arrives on the surge of its bow wave; three others pass beneath the wooden footbridge in pursuit, and one has already come and gone around the tiny island. Five, not fifty-nine. Easy to count these brilliant creatures that cannot mount and scatter, wheeling in great broken rings. Though their hearts have not grown old, they cannot leave. I don’t know why. I can, but don’t. Perhaps it’s the seasons in a world too constant otherwise, every day the same old news. I’m glad for the company of swans, the certainty of knowing I won’t wake some day to find they’ve flown away. Together, we wait for the pond to freeze.