Issue No. 10, Autumn 2014

The Sex Life of Swans
Sandy Coomer

In May, five to ten eggs. But first,
in February, a protective male, vicious
as if some wild demon boils his blood,

the lake splitting as he charges through it,
neck back and eyes wide in red-raged ire.

We watch from our perch on the bench,
where moments before you felt the foot
of your son push out from the inside. You ask me

if it hurts to have my skin rearranged in such lopsided
ways, knowing you made this strange satisfaction

in both of us, love and fierceness, and I said
sometimes it hurts
and sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve waited forever for this
tumble-turn being with shudder-shifting feet.

The swans intertwine necks, breast to breast,
bill to bill, the only time he calms enough to know
the pink streak of dawn against a blue-black water.

The rage is just below the surface, a mirror image
of a frantic love, swirling among rushes at the water’s edge.

In June, the hatching. But first, a savage passion
that matches what lies beneath your refined humanity –
the way you guard me and your seeded child

swimming in the dark lake, pressing
his tiny footprints against your desperate heart.

Sandy Coomer’s poems have been published most recently in Fields Magazine, Number One and POEM. Her poetry chapbook, Continuum, was published by Finishing Line Press is 2012. Her second collection of poems, The Presence of Absence, winner of the 2014 Janice Keck Literary Award for Poetry, is forthcoming later this year. She lives in Brentwood, TN.