On the Day After You Left This World by Heather Swan

On the Day After You Left This World

I floated out to the island
of bird bones, where
their long gone songs
now whisper in the cattails,
looking for solitude, solace,
but found instead
three cranes waiting
who let me join them
there on the shore,
their heads tipping
toward me, toward the
sounds of geese from
across the lake, toward
the jet plane flying overhead.
Night fell and we stayed—
all of us—cranes, crickets,
cattails, me with my broken body
breathing, and in the graying light
the breeze stroked
the cool waters of the lake,
the water lapping the mud
until all of it
was not separate, all of it
became one breath.

*

Heather Swan is the author of a new collection of poems, A Kinship with Ash (Terrapin Books) and the nonfiction book, Where Honeybees Thrive: Stories from the Field (Penn State Press), winner of the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. Her nonfiction has appeared in Aeon, Belt, Catapult, Minding Nature, ISLE, The Learned Pig, Edge Effects and is forthcoming in Terrain and Emergence. Her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, The Hopper, Phoebe, Cold Mountain Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Raleigh Review and several anthologies. She has been the recipient of the Martha Meyer Renk Fellowship in Poetry and the August Derleth Prize. She teaches writing and environmental literature at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

7 thoughts on “On the Day After You Left This World by Heather Swan

  1. Thank you, Rosemerry. Yes, grief does indeed break us open and transform us.

    Thank you, Barbara Sabol.

  2. Thank you again for this beautiful poem, it’s just right. I’ll be sharing it with other people, I love it so much… and looking forward to reading your book of poetry, which I just ordered.

  3. Clare, thank you. I am so glad to hear that it resonated with you. I hope you enjoy my book.

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