Swans by Brent Raycroft

I saw trumpeter swans, flying.
So low I thought they’d land nearby.
So close I heard the undertone of wings.

And white. White as tundra swans or whistling,
neither of which was almost extinct
and both of which pass by in fall and spring.

But the calls approaching through the treetops,
loud and brassy like a slowed-down big-band fanfare—
conjured trumpets undeniably.

And when they roared into my view
yellow-tinted in the evening sun
the sheer extension of their necks confirmed it

stretching back from heads with hard black bills
to bodies surging up and down on massive wings:
the largest of the birds we used to kill.

A dozen or so in total, they wheeled around me
in a big half circle as if the upright shovel handle
I was leaning on had been a sort of axle.

We halted their decline by feeding them.
Did the gravel I was throwing sound like grain?
They pulled back up and powered on, still trumpeting.

— from Juniper Volume 5, Issue 3