Swallow Child

I had no mother,
no tribe. Swallows
heard me crying.

They gave me flight,
to feel the wind,
to find my spirit.

They gave me a mate
to birth our young
in ancient cliffs.

They gave me companions
for warmth
in winter’s cold.

Someday I will rise to the sun.
My feathers will gleam iridescent.
My home will be in cloud cliffs.
I will look down on Earth’s chaos
where my mother disappeared.
I will no longer miss her.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
Based on a painting by Benjamin Chee Chee,
a Native American artist
For Poets United theme “Rising Up”

26 thoughts on “Swallow Child

  1. What lovely and eloquent interpretation of the artist’s work, Sarah. Absolutely glorious. (And thank you for introducing me to Ted Kooser. I’m SO enjoying his poetry).

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    1. Thanks, Bev! And if you like Kooser’s poetry (he was U.S. poet laureate), he has a column every week called American Life in Poetry. You can subscribe and you’ll get a Kooser-esque poem from an American poet. He hand picks them. http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org. Also, don’t miss his poem about his dog. One of my favorites. He says what a dog means in a household. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/143286/death-of-a-dog

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    1. I don’t know what Benjamin found when he finally located his mother after a lifelong quest, but it must have been tragic. He committed suicide soon afterwards. You’re so lucky to have a mother that you miss every day. I wasn’t that fortunate.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Chee Chee’s story was so tragic, and his mother was the central missing figure throughout his short life. I guess I was trying to get inside his head to understand his quest, his finding her, and then his suicide.

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