"That's what it is--a body like this is a dragon, all scales and folds.
So the dragon ate the white swan. I haven't seen her for years.
I can't even remember what she looks like. I feel her, though.
She's safe inside, still alive, the essential swan hasn't changed a feather.
Do you know, there are some mornings in spring or fall, when I wake and think,
I'll run across the fields into the woods and pick wild strawberries!
Or I'll swim in the lake, or I'll dance all night tonight until dawn!
And then, in a rage, discover I'm in this old and ruined dragon."
Ray Bradbury's female character in Dandelion Wine
How could Ray Bradbury, a mere man, have known that a woman can feel like this as she ages?
The essential swan is somewhere safe inside her. She knows it is. Can no one else see it?
Even my mother, now living in a nursing home hundreds of miles away, many inches shorter than she once was, inside is still the beautiful young bride with the raven black Heddy Lamar hair, later working in her kitchen, steam in the air from canning all day, in her purple cotton dress and white ankle socks. Ready for church with veiled hat and white gloves, small daughters dressed in matching frocks that she made. At Myrtle Beach each summer with her bathing suit straps down to get an even tan, laughing with her sisters in the kitchen when they came to visit.
Please, when you see a dragon walking toward you on the street, try to see the white swan inside.