Saturday, February 9, 2013

February Faces: The White Swan


"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.

16 comments:

  1. Another fine post, Dewena. I see the dragon more each day in the mirror, but I won't let her take over the swan. Not yet. It's sharing thoughts like this that encourage your blogging sisters to nurture the swan in ourselves and each other. Thank you.

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  2. Oh, how I loved that quote. Some days I feel like the dragon has taken over....where did that adventurous swan go? As days grow complacent and I get more content with the sameness I wonder...is this how aging happens? But then I try to learn new things to shake my intellect into moving. And travel to give my eyes and brain new vistas. I need to tease the white swan to come out and play.

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  3. Wonderful post! A great reminder for us all to nurture the swan inside of us!

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  4. Dewena, Some times people think we must have been born old. Hey, I was once young, thin and agile. Funny if I am not looking at a reflection, I can feel I am "Susie" who has no age, no extra weight, no arthritis. I will think, now when I see someone walking...some pretty young person is inside. xoxo,Susie

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  5. What a good thought. I'm at the nursing home with my Dad many days and I always see swans. Today as I was outside on my knees planting flowers, I told my husband that I felt no different than when I was 20. When I tried to get up, the dragon showed itself.

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  6. I think good writers can put themselves into characters fully. That is what happens. They are also acute observers of human nature.

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  7. Your post today really touched my heart-it is a feeling I'm often found in myself.
    Thanks.

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  8. I just read a Ray Bradbury book on writing and he talks about his work. He mentioned that piece.
    Interesting.
    R

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  9. Another beautiful post! Love how you write!

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  10. Oh, I smiled all the way through this one: beautiful!
    Brenda

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  11. Sis, you are right, I see the swan in Mom every visit. I say lets keep the Swan inside us alive and yes hopefully others will see it. Loving your February posts.

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  12. Sis, you are right, I see the swan in Mom every visit. I say lets keep the Swan inside us alive and yes hopefully others will see it. Loving your February posts.

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  13. Bradbury's story about the dragon and the swan should be required reading for everyone when they hit twenty. Even with Bradbury's tendency for mawkish sentimentality, which he laid off for this story, thank heavens, there's no better description of how it feels to be still young when one is old.

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  14. Hello my dear Dewena,

    I feel strange sometimes writing my comments here, months into the future from the original publication date, on your most thought provoking posts! A little haunting, isn't it? But even more haunting is the beauty deep inside the dragon, that lingers, like thick fog on a cool, cloud cluttered morning, when the world is still asleep and there is nobody around to catch a glimpse of the movement and enchantment and mystique of its essence.

    Perhaps Bradbury was acquainted with several white swans during his lifetime, and followed them wherever they flew, observing their beauty of behaviour and physique, and as a result, was so inspired by their nature, that he recorded it in writings and in memory.

    Thanks for yet another, intriguing post!

    Poppy

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