Poetry Friday: Cormorant & Swan

I love taking the train into New York City. Not only is it a great place to observe and eavesdrop on my fellow passengers, I love watching the scenery pass by. I can usually count on seeing swans on a large reservoir near the tracks. I love watching as they float along, serene and oblivious to the hubbub passing by. On a recent trip, I wondered how many swans would be on the water, as it’s been unseasonably cold in the Northeast this spring.

I shouldn’t have worried. There were at least a dozen swans swimming in the morning sun. What I didn’t expect to see were, I’m fairly sure, two cormorants, still as statues, perched on stumps near the shore.

My mind immediately started playing with poetic possibilities, but nothing was clicking. Then I read Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Poem #20: Back and Forth Structure.” Of course! Here was the structure I needed to make sense of the scene on the reservoir.


By Yerpo, via Wikimedia Commons                  By Jbdavisjb, via Wikimedia Commons

I glide with grace;
You divwith ease.

I’d rather swim among the riffles;
You prefer to perch near shore.

My feathers are as white as skittering clouds;
Yours as dark as a sculpted bronze.

I nibble algae, weeds and grass;
A feast of fish is all you need.

And though my name is “mute,” I make a lot of noise;
You are the quite one.

As different as night and day, you say?
Maybe, except for this watery home we share.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for the Poetry Friday Roundup AND to celebrate the publication of IMPERFECT: Poems About Mistakes: An Anthology for Middle Schoolers. Tabatha has gathered 70 poems by many Poetry Friday friends. I am proud and honored to have my poem, “The Laws of Motion” included in this collection. Thank you, Tabatha! You can learn more about IMPERFECT at the Team Imperfect blog.

13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Cormorant & Swan

  1. You certainly chose the perfect format, Catherine! I love how all the differences come back to a similarity at the end. Nice! Coincidentally, I was watching a swan in MA today–she was hunkered down on her nest in some chilly wind. They are such majestic looking birds!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We wrote to Amy’s back and forth structure today, too. It worked well for your subjects of swan and cormorant. I often see both of these in my parents’ lake in Mississippi. You describe them with wonderful imagery.

    Liked by 1 person

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