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Solstice Poems: Swan by Ali Blythe

Swan By Ali Blythe 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.
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VICTORIA, B.C.: December, 3, 2018 - Portrait of Ali Blythe, one of the poets for the Times Colonist. VICTORIA, B.C. December 3, 2018. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST). For Life story by Bruce MacKenzie.

Swan

By Ali Blythe

 

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)