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Swan Song

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Written by Gerald Stern

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 A bunch of old snakeheads down by the pond
carrying on the swan tradition -- hissing
inside their white bodies, raising and lowering their heads
like ostriches, regretting only the sad ritual
that forced them to waddle back into the water
after their life under the rocks, wishing they could lie again
 in the sun

and dream of spreading their terrifying wings;
wishing, this time, they could sail through the sky like
 horses,
their tails rigid, their white manes fluttering,
their mouths open, their sharp teeth flashing,
drops of mercy pouring from their eyes,
bolts of wisdom from their foreheads.


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