by Robin Chapman
The New York cygnets are being trained to follow a man dressed up
as a robot wearing an aviation helmet, goggles, and carrying a boom-box
playing the sputtering sounds of an ultralight motor-mother they’ll follow
to learn a new migration route. The man has to chart a safe passage
through power lines, air corridors, hunting grounds to lead them down
to Maryland’s wild bird sanctuaries, where my brother’s neighbors
view swans as one more turf invader on their golf course. The website
pleads to give them a chance: they’ll drive the hostile mute swans out,
settle down peaceably with native neighbors. I forward the link to my brother,
who’ll speak to the board. The swans and the ultralight have taken off.
Originally appeared in Appalachia, 2006.
Robin Chapman is a poet living in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. She writes in her book the eelgrass meadow (Tebot Bach, 2011) about vanishing species; in One Hundred White Pelicans (Tebot Bach, 2013), about climate change.