On a Swan’s Wing

Recently published on Gods & Radicals – my poem based on Sacha Dench’s radical journey as a human swan to find out why Bewick’s swans are disappearing.

GODS & RADICALS

For Sacha Dench

I.

She flies on a single swan’s wing,
engine thrumming in her head,
swan’s heart beating

like the hammer in Arctic ice
driving wingbeats southward
southward

down flight-ways
over the Rakovie Lakes,
the Taiga, the Gulf of Finland,

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Slonsk National Park in Poland,
Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands,

Belgium, France, across the foaming
Channel to the White Cliffs,
then back to Slimbridge,

the mudflats of the Severn
to dip her beak into
home sands.

II.

They say that shaman fly
in bird form,
transform to seek answers,

stake their souls against the winds
of industrialisation,
brave the guns,

return exhausted
with shattered pieces
of the world-soul.

III.

Nine Bewick’s swans were tagged,
told apart by the patterns
on their beaks:

Butters, Charlotte, Daisy Clark,
Eileen, Leho, Hope, Maisie,
Pola, Zolotitsa.

We are gathering the pixels
of their data,
trying to assemble a picture.

A story…

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2 thoughts on “On a Swan’s Wing

  1. ‘Our destinies are intertwined’ – yes! And some closely felt imagery here to underline this.

    There are so many swans transformed into human form stories – the idea seems to be programmed deep in our consciousness.

    The tracked ospreys from the Dyfi too, gave all the offspring names and tracking devices. One it seems was killed in Africa. Just two are known to have returned to Britain.

    [I couldn’t comment on Gods & R for some reason?]

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