Mudlark No. 62 (2017)

Unbidden Song

You don’t need much for a song
A mouth, an ear, some air
Then something else for that to rub against 
Bone, swan, father

In some versions, the swan is always beautiful,
the father never cruel
The swan is born singing its song
You’re supposed to save that for the end
a voice calls, like the father calling No, no 
to desire for the daughter 

Others tell the daughter’s sorrow 
Even when the worst does not happen,
he does not come like the dark hardening
into bone & thrust,
the daughter feels the forbidden
enter her like water

The bones of a swan don’t amount to much
or account for much of its weight
Like the bones of a daughter, oh little daughter
who sometimes puts on the small slippers
to dance the swan dance
for the lover who becomes the lost father
when she closes her eyes & bends her long neck
to glide off from the banks of 
the dream she tells no one

He doesn’t get it, someone says,
he just doesn’t get it
As if grief were flour or sugar 
you could measure out
by the spoon or pound: 
I don’t want all that

A girl stood by a pond
She was all bone, the people
who were watching said, bone & that song 
she never got to the end of

Lynne Knight | Heat Rises
Contents | Mudlark No. 62 (2017)