The swans of Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I posted a swan painted by Sladjana Vasic when she illustrated GOOSE LAKE: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A LAKE. Here’s her swan again but this time with the back story and poem from the book. The swans on our table inspired the poem.

Swan Lakes

One year Goose Lake was home to a pair of swans. Their days were spent in splendid togetherness, one never far from the other. Even on cloudy days their white feathers stood out like two Viking ships sailing the lake one behind the other or side by side.

The second year one of the swans became ill. Its mate remained close until the end. The sight of the dead swan on the lake made each day a day of mourning. The remaining swan left the lake and turtles profited until life eventually resumed without a trace of what once was.

Two years later the swan returned. Perhaps it was flying from lake to lake searching for its lost mate. It seemed irritable and chased the geese onto the banks. After a few days it was gone. Now and then the swan returns briefly. We rejoice to see it suddenly swoop down over the trees, great wings beating, neck extended as though it can’t wait to arrive.
Each morning I look to see if the swan is still with us. I hold out hope that this time it is home for good. I still grieve to see such a magnificent creature swimming alone. If birds experience sorrow or a sense of loss, I’m sure this one does.

Two crystal swans swim
the mirror on our table,
etched feathers flashing white
fire in the slanted early light.

They face the lake
beyond the window,
gazing serenely toward

the solitary swan
adrift on the water,
divided from its mate
by the fate of the living,

who at this moment
unknowingly faces our window
at this splendid pair,
but unaware.