When I was a child, a swan pecked off the fingers of my right hand, one by one, and swallowed them whole, with a gulp, and a sneer, or so it looked to me then, with those those haughty black eyes, those flecks of my blood smeared upon its beak, as I screamed in horror, screamed in fear, screamed in every possible way a scream is possible to scream.
In the aftermath, as I lay in bed, my hands swaddled in bandages, my body swaddled in quilts and covers, instead of sympathy, or alongside it at least, was an undercurrent of disdain, every empty platitude accompanied by some snort of derision, some admonishment of my judgement, as they made sure to tell me it was my own damn fault. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been down by the river. I shouldn’t have offered it those last few scraps of bread.
I should have left the poor thing alone.
1. Written on April 1st, 2019
2. And then re-written almost entirely on September 8th, 2020