without their feathers.
The swans were like women,
whole families marched into the gas.
The birds weren't natives either,
were, some said, taking over.
Yes, a strange beauty,
but wardens wanted them out. "First
we tried moving them,"
he said coldly, "rounding them up to ship out." "It was too much." "We had no choice," he said.
They were startling,
they were mute. I emphasize,
they weren't our kind of bird,
came from outside. They would have taken over.
was our moral choice. We had to. Sure, a few protested,
said it was inhumane.
The birds thought
they were going to dip into the water
and they shot them! "Swan free,
that's our goal," another said.
Yes, I know they're exotic
and we've pumped ourselves up
on myths of their charm,
They take over,
take what belongs
to the birds first in the state. The swans are outsiders,
they're too pushy. "Be careful,
it's a small town,"
my mother said. "When you are Jewish,
they think you're rich.
They think you're dirty,
The birds make
the lake into squalor.
The warden says, "They are predators."
We wanted to transport them to Texas
but we couldn't round them up. They are sneaky,
A woman from Finland says
she was horrified,
those beautiful birds, "I waited for them each morning.
I was close enough to hear
their wings like breath.
I never thought
a little town in Vermont
would remind me of the war.
They seemed connected
to myths in my past." "We did our duty,"
the men with guns said, "our orders."
The lake now is swan-free.
My mother always remembers
being the only Jewish girl in Maryland,
how the southern girls,
who said how lively
and beautiful she was,
said Hitler was right
but that she was different,
different than other Jews
after the news.