The Silver Swan
I’ve seen you before
wandering the streets,
maybe searching for nuggets
of your former self, the dad
who lulled his little ones
to sleep and tucked them
safely into a bed of dreams.
Many sundowns have passed
since then; your beard is straggly,
your cap old, crumpled and stained
like you, with tales of a traveler’s soul.
Your blood-soaked socks stick
to your blistered feet; searing
pain feels like daggers of defeat.
Yet, you trudge through your
desert of despair, scavenging
like a buzzard through dumpsters
for remnants of restaurant feasts.
You wearily wend your way
through crowded streets
seeking a mirage of smiles
where people will forget how you
look, how you stink and realize you
are a carnival mirror, a mere distortion
of themselves but for a slip of fate.
Your pain is invisible, even laughable
to some, but you know it’s fear. You
might have laughed, too, if not for losing
your job, your home, your hold on the
future, now held hostage by a hopeless
present, and aware that hostages who
aren’t rescued or escape, die.
The sky darkens the colour of the
devil’s heart and you succumb
to your fatigue; fending off fears
of drug-hazed thieves and police,
and collapse into sleep
like a tent missing a pole.
You awaken to the shine of
a foil-shaped silver swan that
smells like the warm home
you knew; you crinkle the foil,
listen to its crunch and unwrap it
slowly, carefully, as if were china.
Inside the foil is hot gravy-soaked
turkey, buttery mashed potatoes
and green beans the colour of spring.
Every evening you return to the same
place, wake up to a new whiff
of the silver swan, stirring senses
like the first fresh cup of morning coffee.
You don’t know who brought
beauty back into your life but
soon it is time to move on, your
soul too restless to remain in
one spot. You gently tuck the
crumpled silver swan in your
pocket to remind you of someone
who didn’t look away.
Shelly and her husband Jon are empty-nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland with their 4 cat rescues. They have two sons Richard, 31, of New York, and Joshua, 30, of San Antonio. Shelly's first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/journalism. Her poetry has been published by Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing as well as Visual Verse, Silver Birch Press,and Verse-Virtual.
The Ekphrastic Review
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