“Not Swans” by Susan Ludvigson
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
I drive toward distant clouds and my mother's dying. The quickened sky is mercury, it slithers across the horizon. Against that liquid silence, a V of birds crosses-sudden and silver. They tilt, becoming white light as they turn, glitter like shooting stars arcing slow motion out of the abyss, not falling. Now they look like chips of flint, the arrow broken. I think, This isn't myth— they are not signs, not souls. Reaching blue again, they're ordinary ducks or maybe Canada geese. Veering away they shoot into the west, too far for my eyes, aching as they do. Never mind what I said before. Those birds took my breath. I knew what it meant.
from Sweet Confluence: New and Selected Poems, 2000
Louisiana State University Press
Copyright 2000 by Susan Ludvigson.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press from Sweet Confluence: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 2000 by Susan Ludvigson. For further permissions information, contact Louisiana State University Press, P.O. Box 25053, Baton Rouge, LA 70894-5053.
About the Poet
Susan Ludvigson is the author of ten poetry collections, including Escaping the House of Certainty (Louisiana State University Press, 2006). She is professor emeritus of English at Winthrop Hills University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Learn more about Susan Ludvigson at The Poetry Foundation.