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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Number 118: Ruth L. Schwartz "The Swan at Edgewater Park"

The Swan at Edgewater Park

Isn't one of your prissy rich peoples' swans

Wouldn't be at home on some pristine pond

Chooses the whole stinking shoreline, candy wrappers, condoms

in its tidal fringe

Prefers to curve its muscular, slightly grubby neck

into the body of a Great Lake,

Swilling whatever it is swans swill,

Chardonnay of algae with bouquet of crud,

While Clevelanders walk by saying Look

at that big duck!

Beauty isn't the point here; of course

the swan is beautiful,

But not like Lorie at 16, when

Everything was possible—no

More like Lorie at 27

Smoking away her days off in her dirty kitchen,

Her kid with asthma watching TV,

The boyfriend who doesn't know yet she's gonna

Leave him, washing his car out back—and 

He's a runty little guy, and drinks too much, and

It's not his kid anyway, but he loves her, he

Really does, he loves them both—

That's the kind of swan this is.

-- Ruth L. Schwartz

Hap Notes: Ruth L. Schwartz (born 1962) has won a dozen prizes and fellowships for her poetry but the most intriguing thing about her, save for her extraordinary verse, is that she got her Ph.D. at the University of Integrative Learning in Transpersonal Psychology (she got her B.A. at Wesleyan and her M.F.A. at the University of Michigan.) Her website explains her mission more clearly and here it is:

She has taught at Goddard College, Mills College California State-Fresno, California College of the Arts, Ashland University and Cleveland State University (where one assumes today's poem was observed.) She also guides would-be writers in a retreat through "Writer as Shaman" which you can find out about here: If you want to write, just reading about the retreats can be somewhat liberating. There are also free "teleclasses" archived to enjoy.

In our poem today, Schwartz is saying something about beauty and love and our choices in life.

Here's a good Schwartz quote: "Writing has always been a way for me to grapple with life on earth, and it served me well in that capacity. But in order to create the life I truly wanted to live, I needed more. Shamanism and other mystical practices gave me the additional tools I needed to truly say Yes to myself and my life, and helped me reach a state of deep peace, freedom and possibility."

You can find more Schwartz here:

1 comment:

  1. Here's a review of Ruth L. Schwartz's collection, Edgewater, at