Isn't one of your prissy richpeoples' swans
Wouldn't be at home on some pristine pond
Chooses the whole stinking shoreline, candy wrappers, condoms
      in its tidal fringe
Prefers to curve its muscular, slightly grubby neck
      into the body of a Great Lake,
Swilling whatever it is swans swill,
Chardonnay of algae with bouquet of crud,
While Clevelanders walk by saying Look
      at that big duck!
Beauty isn't the point here; of course
      the swan is beautiful,
But not like Lorie at 16, when
Everything was possible—no
More like Lorie at 27
Smoking away her days off in her dirty kitchen,
Her kid with asthma watching TV,
The boyfriend who doesn't know yet she's gonna
Leave him, washing his car out back—and 
He's a runty little guy, and drinks too much, and
It's not his kid anyway, but he loves her, he
Really does, he loves them both—
That's the kind of swan this is.

—Ruth L. Schwartz

Rights & Access

From Crab Orchard Review, Volume 6, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2001
Crab Orchard Review

Copyright 2001 by Ruth L. Schwartz.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Crab Orchard Review from Crab Orchard Review. Copyright 2001 by Ruth L. Schwartz. For further permissions information, contact Crab Orchard Review,

  • Ruth L. Schwartz

    Ruth L. Schwartz (1962- ) is the author of five poetry collections, including Miraculum (Autumn House Press, 2012).