by Haley Cheek
Tuesday, late afternoon:
I saw a swan feeding in the lake.
She was hungry, like me, and alone,
but not as cold.
I saw her tuck her head into the water,
tip her back end into the air,
and let it float like a buoy,
too white against the white sky
to help anyone navigate.
Right-side up she waited for the ripples
to stop their easy rocking,
furling and unfurling her neck
before dipping back into the lake.
I told everyone I saw about the swan
feeding in the lake.
Reactions were mixed.
I sent one friend, an avid birder,
a photo of her iceberg tail.
My roommate laughed
because I used the words “butt”
and “wiggle” when I told her
and because she knew joy
in my voice when she heard it.
I remembered the swan
one hundred times.
Out of indifference,
she let me close enough
to feel jealous.
In bed, hungry, I slouched
and listened to wet snow crackle
like tissue paper in the gutter.