She is keen for the swans
her face pressed to the window
as the bus winds the river shored road.
I first think she says swamp
and look for alligators along the banks
forgetting this is Southampton and
I'm on my way to the A&P.
Her accent makes it hard to understand
all she's learned about swans, stars
of her letters home. I picture a land swan bare,
possibly Aegean, the wind temperature and lilting
as her voice as if wind teaches us to speak.
Her distress is more than they deserve.
I tell her swans are mean and cranky,
prone to nipping the hand that feeds them.
Their beauty is in their leaving, the smooth
glide of long wings across the water.
One lifts off over palms
and gabled roofs to prove my points.
Virginia Conn lives in Buffalo.