Solstice Poems: Swan by Ali Blythe


By Ali Blythe


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A woman falls from a bridge

and a beautiful man


is lifted from the river

with dead tenderness —


it’s winter and he’s in

someone else’s arms now.


The palm at the end

of his hanging arm


is open to the autopsic

light. And maybe you


look out past him

because you need


to keep moving, it’s cold,

and the man is heavier


than the woman ever was,

and did you ever even need


to carry her?

Your mind moves


in a flurry. It was

you. You, who stripped


and scotched yourself

of everything for him.


He has only ever

weighed you down.


Your own skeleton breaks

under his slab weight.


What holds you here,

in this whiteness?


What but the attempt

to transform us into something


intimately halfway

between whatever this is


we keep doing

to each other.

- - -

About the author

Winter, snow, creates such a large stillness. A cold blanket pinning people together. Like the page, in its whiteness, with words falling. I’m a trans man, so this poem is about the transition into one’s own body. In this way, it takes place in one body. It also takes place between two bodies who wrestle with how to hold on to each other through times of life transition. It’s all so sacred and difficult.

Swan is from my second book, Hymnswitch, arriving this spring with Goose-Lane Editions. I work as a communications officer at Royal Roads University, where I look out from my desk in the castle turret toward the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary. I’ve seen one lone trumpeter.

Ali Blythe, author of Twosim (2015) and Hymnswitch (2019)

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