The Swan Song

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A grown - up kid story for my friend -

The Swan Song –
A grown -up kid story
It is often said that poets and artists attract the same. As this idea was expressed to me so eloquently yesterday – this story came to me. I hope as one who loves expression and sincerity you will receive the message – which is for only you-
 So as you are away training the younger swans ..and I remain here preparing the training for the loveable ducks the story unfolds –
There was once a beautiful lake with adjacent ponds; which were separated by both species of ducks and swans. The ducks asked for little, were considered clumsy, noisier and less refined than their counterparts. Their pond was a bit muddy and overgrown with weeds and slowly eroding. The swans were well skilled, graceful and coordinated. Their pond was pristine and quiet and they despised both noise and disruption. They primped, groomed and honed their swanly ways and rarely mentioned the lesser ducks. The swans and ducks lived rather peacefully in their respective areas of the pond.
They were separated like a caste system by trait. Among these variations were the dear golden swans the highest order of the species. These graceful swans were menders, healers and the wisest of the flock. They were honored for their ability to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the flock. The next grouping was referred to as the elegant swans. These birds were leaders, highly skilled, mentors and observers. They protected the younger swans and assessed the health of the pond regularly. They were excellent swimmers and communicators and they could gracefully move among all orders of species within the ecosystem. The trumpet swans were the most noisy and creative. They were highly passionate and skilled. Somewhat disorganized at times; they were also highly regarded within the pond as the strategic planners. They tested the waters and often ventured beyond the boundaries of the pond. They worked closely with the peacemakers. Sometimes their loud flapping; which was used to alert and protect the others was misinterpreted by the swans. The peacemakers like the trumpet swans were highly creative and vocal. They were focused and committed to the health of the pond and the relationships of species within the ecosystem. As did the trumpet swans they were highly regarded yet somewhat limited to their own species and lacked the nesting qualities of the other species. The pleaser swans were blenders. They aspired to be elegant swans but were less skilled. They remained in the middle of the line and were often frustrated by the skills and grace of the other swans which they aspired to be.The flyers and paddlers were expert in their respective skills. The flyers while regarded for their beautiful form and intellect. They were unpredictable, noisy, arrogant and poor nesters. The floaters were exquisite in form but lazy. The nesters were fastidious organizers. They were bright and protective and helped to maintain the order and health of the ecosystem. They were often blenders and worked quietly supporting the flyers and paddlers. The grand elder swans were experienced, patient and wise. They were well travelled swans and had healing skills as did the dear swans. They supported all of the members of the flock and adored the ducks.
Within the ponds grew two exquisite swans. She was born to a trumpet and an elegant swan couple. Her father somewhat stifled by his harsh training excelled as a paddler and trained younger paddlers. His form was strong and his was lauded by many for his athleticism. He attracted many other golden paddlers but chose the elegant and pleaser swan for her excellent supportive qualities. She was likely an elegant swan as a youngster but her lack of natural talent led her to believe she was a pleaser and nester. The young swan resembled her mother but had the strength and intuition of her father. She was expected to be an elegant swan as she had the golden qualities of the most elder dear swans. She was a quick paddler and she moved gracefully. She was golden like her father and spirited. She was organized and tempered as was her mother. She had a compassion for the slower swans and would train them so they could catch up and had empathy for the ducks. Her sister was a very vociferous trumpet. Smart, spirited, creative, rebellious and disorganized. She liked to make waves within the nest – as was her nature and longed to fly North. The elegant swan had to carefully coax her into place as to not shake the nest and anger the elder swans. She cared little of the ducks and was too busy training and paddling and showing her elders she was as skilled as her elegant sibling.
He grew up to elders who were somewhat ill and absent in their training skills.  His father a broken flyer and his mother;  maybe once an elegant swan became an empty nester.  So with limited training and structure; he had to rely upon his own skills. Among these imagination, creativity and brilliance.  His siblings too longed for structure and boundaries and affection and like he grew to compensate for the lack of training. His sister created a life of the highest order with defined boundaries which were nearly impossible to maintain. His brother wandered aimlessly within the weeds and often became stuck. He had to be rescued many times. He remained isolated from his siblings and separated from the flock. His passivity and helplessness angered the trumpet swan; as it could have easily been him. But, the protective nature of the trumpet dictated that he must save his sibling .He did over and over again and it angered him and he flapped.
He was one of those most rare of swans (a trumpeter)- or so he thought. These swans maintain exemplary skills. These swans are strong, and creative and sometimes worn from their struggles to relate to the others. Although curious and brilliant he was a bit of an awkward swan who was forced into training at an early age. He was a loner at times because no one but he knew his strength. Even among the trumpeters he knew he was a bit extreme. In his training, he had heard of the lesser ducks and was intrigued by them. He learned to swim but he also grew angry and resentful for these harsh training methods. As he grew, some of his feathers stuck out and darkened; and he was teased by the elder swans.
She was golden, graceful, patient and compassionate. She was humble regarding her skills. She was elegant beyond her seasons and this was highly regarded in this flock. Until one day when she paddled to the aide of the slowest swan. As was her nature, she tried to comfort him and the slower swan welcomed her warmth. The other swans ignored the slow swan and she was drawn to console him and he took advantage of her beauty and skills. The other swans were not paying attention and although young she knew what had occurred would have to remain quiet as she was less of a trumpet swan than an elegant swan. All at once her eyes darkened over and she stopped being golden .As did he- she felt that her feathers were bent and dirtied. She struggled to remove the soil and straighten her feathers. She never again swam far from the nest as to cause unstoppable flapping behaviors which were undesirable by her parents.  She swam ever so quietly to the rear of the line. She tempered her talents and became a pleaser swan. She would become ill in training and her seniors were very annoyed with her changed demeanor. They said “elegant swans are not blenders -they move gracefully and master their paddling.”As all young swans do to gain approval of their elders she became very pleasing but the brightness in her eyes disappeared. She excelled enough as to remain within reach of the leaders. She was an excellent groomer and moved gracefully. She let her sibling move ahead in the line and she followed quietly. She often dreamed of her potential as an elegant swan-but never manifested it as to not attract too much attention for which she feared the most.
Meanwhile our resentful swan consumed with rage for his simplistic and non existent training left to pursue another area of the pond hoping to find substitute seniors who would give him the skills he knew he would need. But his anger consumed him. His feathers darkened, his talons sharpened and he fought as a chicken. He would prove that he was a trunpeter to others by mastering the swan rituals. He would play the violent swan games and he would excell; as is the nature of the bird. He did not really care if his feathers became broken because at least he would feel something, So he trumpeted “bring on the storms” and the universe replied.
She gravitated to the swans who excelled – which was her true nature As if to say –if you look carefully I really am the elegant swan- and another elegant swan recognized her as his match. They paired for a while and she adored his strength and intelligence. He adored her for her support and demeanor which was reserved compared to the other floater swans that encircled about him. As she struggled to grow she found herself smothered a bit in his shadow and swam away for more training as to also match his perceived higher order of talent. By the time she had completed her training he had found a northern swan more conservative and affectionate to him. It occurred to her maybe she was already an elegant swan. The loss made her bow her neck even further and it would never straighten quite the same again.
Our trumpeter swan became so tired with swan games and returned for more training. He softened ever so much and met the dear golden swan- who adored him unconditionally. This swan is of an elite group that will offer their safety for all others swans to make way. They are the altruistic ones who will step aside if it will benefit the flock- they are also the rarest of breeds. All at once he felt peace and the anger was in remission-for a short while. They swam and shared their training stories and she was bright and warm. She noticed his dark and torn feathers and mended them as only these types can. Until one day when the pond was disrupted violently. The dear swans wings were injured and she could no longer fly- and he would be alone with his thoughts and anger again. His sadness overwhelmed him and he remained lost at sea for as long as he could.He wanted to be broken too as to somehow remain close to her in the weeds.
Our quiet swan feeling equally lost with her quiet rage was noticed by the flyer. The flyer swans are also elite in their training but they are from the south and they fly in unpredictable patterns. They are very skilled as is the trumpeter yet are often chickens with their loyalty to the flock. They are show offs and although highly skilled poorly regarded. They are impulsive, aggressive and often wounded. His skills appealed to her and although her eyes were muddy and feathers flattened he knew her elite status was a rarity to meet. His showiness distracted her and as young swans do she spread her wings and followed him to the South. They had their chick and she once again became saddened in realizing her grave mistake. He knew she would leave him because these two birds can be lethal together and often have violent nesting behaviors. She carefully planned and prepared a nest in the north pond and once the storm subsided ever so briefly she flew the coop with baby bird in tow. She was broken and her seniors did not recognize her. Her wings were damaged her feathers plucked her eyes muddy – she looked more like a duck; which was repulsive to the elders.
She slowly reorganized and built her own nest as her wings mended. She nurtured the baby bird with whatever means she could muster. She adored him so- he was bright eyed and learned the ways quickly and she would be the only sitter in the nest. She would receive more training because she could no longer remember what the swan ways were. Her elders watched over baby bird but became ever more resentful and critical of her nesting. She had to make other plans and this forever changed her relationship with them.
Meanwhile the trumpet swan while distracting himself on occasion by the exquisite floaters yearned to nest and breed. His nature and skills led him to the paddler. She was bright eyed and of exquisite form and skill. They coupled and had beautiful swans. He once again felt calmed. He like she- swore that his training would be kind and nurturing he would be the elder he had never known and in so doing may repair some of his bruised wings. Paddlers seek paddlers and he was once again alone and distraught in his loss. He knew he must be constant because he was the result of its absence. He was their protector and nurturer and built a strong nest with care and great attention. During these days he built nests for the ducks and envisioned a pond that would surpass or equal that of the swans. The young swans were golden. One more of a wandering trumpet ; and the other an excellent paddler with elegant traits. They were both dear swans in their own ways. One dark evening his elegant swan was mistreated; and his rage once again arose. She was an elegant swan and had strength and a sense of justice as these types do and with the encouragement of her trumpeter elder she spoke of her paddle and in so doing saved many young swans.
Our elegant swan feeling much more in tune with her dear ducks decided to leave the swan pond and relocate. She carefully observed their behaviors and lived among them and only visited the elders when needing materials for her nest. She hoped their distaste for her choices to leave would not affect their bonding with her dear golden swan; but it never came to be. They were incapable of offering nurturing training to her swan and though admired his beauty, grace and humility remained in their own swan pond. Like her sibling, she longed for adoration and unconditional acceptance and would adore her young swan. He adored her and they were birds of a feather. He was so golden with exquisite skills beyond her own and ease of learning the swan ways. He was caring towards the ducks and she insisted he always be grateful for his talents; as to later offer his skills to the less talented swans or ducks. She supported him through his molting years and soon attracted the pleaser swan. He recognized her grace immediately although she did not. He flattered her with offerings of perches and twigs and she was overwhelmed. She wanted a solid senior for her golden swan.To teach him the male games and rituals. She recognized soon that he was a lesser skilled swan but so wanted to please the elders and impress them with her fine nest that she remained for as long as she could. He knew all along he was a lesser swan who liked to pose near the elegant ones; as if to somehow achieve elegance in their mere presence. He cared less for her dear swans and his interest was only in making beautiful nests .This saddened her and despite her elders she once again flew the coop. She regrouped and built a strong and simple nest for her young bird. For a long while she felt as if every swan could see her bent wings and tilted neck but the ducks always adored her. Her dear golden grew and left for his training and for many seasons remained despondent. She knew she had raised a beautiful dear swan and he would now have to learn at his own pace. She warned him of the floaters and the nesters who might latch onto him; but she knew it was out of her pond now.
The trumpeter also mastered his nesting skills and the swans soon left the nest and he was engulfed in sadness .But he was confident in his skills and he knew he had guided them well and they would be exquisite in their respective ponds. During this time he yearned for that partner; because he hated so to paddle alone, He was once again attracted to the floaters for their beauty for a short while but he knows floaters are just that. His brilliance required a different form of swan a gentler peace making swan. One who was bright and vocal as was he. Who represented the ducks and their plight. She was directed and flew easily and she was an excellent builder of bridges- which he so admired and required to change the ecosystem. But often times these swans grow restless and self absorbed with their cause and flew the coop to build more bridges as was her nature all along. Once again he despaired and more of his feathers fell and darkened.
By a chance encounter while working in the duck pond he communicated through messenger pigeon his desire to meet the ideal swan. The messenger mistakenly dropped his message upon a floater; and as beautiful floaters do attracted his attentions briefly- because all of the swans are attracted to these- it is a given fact of nature. His brilliance and curiosity for a swan that had caught his eye across the pond slowly increased. He paddled and flapped and loudly proclaimed his love of ducks and distaste for elitist swans who talk but never really do. She would glance up at times curious of his true intentions; but the fact he was a do-er and a shaker attracted that trumpeter part of her which was an inherited trait she received from her elder. He was an excellent flapper and she could easily match his pace. He was amused by her sharp wit and training. She was an excellent communicator and could have continued flapping for many seasons but he is a visual and tactile swan and encouraged a paddle.
For some odd reason that was totally uncharacteristic of her past several seasons was drawn by her intense curiosity. She too was a visual and tactile swan and she would know quickly if she would be attracted to him. She could barely recall her grooming and primping training she had mastered in an earlier season but in some strange way it returned to her. When the two swans met they immediately recognized one another. They were both a bit flappy and she was so afraid her dirty wings would show. She was at once an elegant swan and she was slightly golden.
She was ever so intuitive and graceful and he adored her long neck – at once. He shared his stories and travels and she did -as much as she could. As a keen observer she quickly realized this was no floater, pleaser or flyer swan. He was likely a trumpeter with great skill. She was flapping on the inside and he was a bit disheveled by her glow; it disarmed him and his usual flapping routine would no longer suffice. He recognized her to be of another order as well not a pleaser, some beautiful traits of a floater, likely a peacekeeper and possibly a dear swan. This completely ruffled his feathers and he fumed and drank from toxic pond water. He was compelled to share personal stories of his earlier swan days and his dear swan and teared as he flapped. At once she realized he was not the trumpeter she thought at first glance; although this would have sufficed because of his humor and skills. He was perhaps an elegant swan like her – maybe even a dear one.
They flapped with joy in recognizing these lovely traits. They anticipated their travels and necking in the pond like the younger swans. But she knew she had a very strong fright/flight response and warned him because it was her nature to protect the feelings of the others birds and would never hurt them as she was a healer. She could see he had some dark feathers remaining which she could easily pluck but as a see-er she knew he would have to take care of this on his own. He was ever so slightly disheveled and fumed. She would sneeze and tried to keep her nest mushroom and fume free but for some reason was not bothered by his behaviors. She expected that this fuming was a nervous reaction to his rearing, brilliance and need for stimulation. She knew she was a healer and she sensed if he was calm the flapping and fuming would subside. She was a nervous paddler - so she completely understood.
So they planned another rendezvous and furiously emailed their intentions; but he had to leave and train the younger swans. She hated when swans left she would rather leave first; but she respected his manner with the younger swans. She knew his work was important and virtuous and he was an animated and skilled flapper. He was passionate about his desire to build strong nests for all of the birds- especially the ducks. She adored his silly flapping and his compassion. She suspected that his disheveled feathers were partly intentional as a means to separate his from the elitist swans; at the same time he knew they had the means to provide the twigs.
When he returned to the pond they at once necked and she shared her swan song which lay dormant in her feathers for many seasons. While terrified in doing so and exhausted in reliving the pain of her mistakes; she wanted to be the best and most elegant swan she knew she was capable of. This would require a molting period of which she so feared, She would have to drop all of her feathers in order to renew. She felt naked and exposed in front of her dear swan and wanted to keep a safe distance until the process was completed. He knew he would also have to pluck some dark feathers if he was to couple with this dear swan. So they flapped and paddled quickly and fumed because the process was so uncomfortable; but all the while supported one another through it.
His gentle touch and patience encouraged her and she emerged a dear swan; and was amazed because she was just hoping to be an elegant one. He told her he recognized her to be that rare bird long before she knew. She knew while he was so intensely drawn to her she would remind him of the pain he once had; She reassured him that dear swans remain in his heart forever and he carries their strength. He emerged to be an equally dear swan and amazed at this fact. She told him she realized him to be this almost immediately and was grateful for it. They were overcome with gratitude for their trials, the health of their dear swans, the plight of the ducks and the intense connection of their unconditional acceptance.
As time passed he still maintained the appearance of the trumpeter as was his comfort and he fumed a bit less and hardly flapped unless required to motivate the younger swans. She would return to the duck pond and train the ducks and teach them to paddle and glide through the pond. He would try to resist building a nest for her as he recognized her need for independence; but always had a special place for her in his nest if she was comfortable enough to share it. She adored him for his patience and compassion and action on behalf of the ecosystem and swam next to him as much as she could. He reminded her that she could raise her lovely neck and still train the ducks and it would not be arrogant of her .She reminded him that he was a dear swan and she would not fly away from him but beside him. He loved her constancy, she loved his humor and they never flapped over silly details. They were at ease and this is all she ever wanted. They still had trouble at times believing they were dear swans but their actions were authentic and true and the pond was exquisite. He was often asked to share his duck tales and was lauded for his entertaining flaps. She was respected by the other trainers; but had trouble with recognition and preferred to watch her dear swan stand on the perch as she knew it was where he belonged all along- and she hoped he would feel at ease there.
I hope you recognize the dear swan in yourself –and this swan song is a gift to you for reminding me I am one too…

Submitted: August 22, 2010

© Copyright 2021 Lisa Marie. All rights reserved.

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