The Yellow Swan

after James Merrill

At noon the pedaled swans afloat midstream
………. ………. or parked at the water’s rim
find the boy first in line or there before
there is a line, and always the nice boatman
lets him mount his favorite ride, whose name
………. ………. outwits both rust and wear.
………. He whispers: I love you Yellow Swan,

a secret he knows better than to share
………. ………. save in the hollow ear-
like curve of that arched neck whose bright reflection
breaks on rings of water as he climbs
between the wings and pedals from the pier,
………. ………. a young boy full of questions
………. weighing him down. The river foams,

churned by the paddlewheel and changed to ocean,
………. ………. its surface cut by the question
mark of the swan—no, dragon—gliding on
the hissing blood-stained waters as he turns
fire on darkness, almost wins his mission
………. ………. while his parents chat in the sun,
………. unaware of all that burns

down on the other bank. But like most love
………. ………. the swan-ride is cut off.
The stroke of one o’clock returns the beast
to boat, the boat to boatman. He hates the boatman.
He hates his parents, whom he won’t forgive.
………. ………. He hates the girl who’s next.
………. Poor boy, he hates the yellow swan.

Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian have appeared or are forthcoming in The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has received fellowships from the ALSCW and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in Baltimore.
Armen Davoudian

Latest posts by Armen Davoudian (see all)

Author: Armen Davoudian

Armen Davoudian’s poems and translations from Persian have appeared or are forthcoming in The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has received fellowships from the ALSCW and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in Baltimore.