Once Upon a Time
In the tale, the girl has seven brothers transformed into swans. The girl, too, has to transform before she can save them, though not into a swan. She has to travel to a far kingdom, talk to a toad, unlock a door with a magic key, defeat a giant. Once upon a time you were young and unshaped. You had two brothers and two sisters, so different from you, they might have been another species with their squawks and quibbles, their strange politics, their desires that never translated into your own. You don’t know how to save them, or if you should. They have a way of being perfect in their bodies, their long necks, their black masked eyes. They have married into the world of swans. In the fairy tale the girl frees her brothers, all but one who has died. Your dead brother visits your dreams.
Bethany Reid’s most recent book of poems is SPARROW, which won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux. She lives in Edmonds, Washington, and blogs at www.awritersalchemy.wordpress.com.