The Swan

Rarely a day goes by without my thoughts turning to Hazel. Even though she died in the spring of 2006, I often feel her presence. This is a picture of her at age 16, just before she became ill. She was a feisty spirit and I often draw on my memories of her when facing difficult things in my life.

After posting a poem of Mary Oliver’s yesterday, I spent some time reading more of her poetry today. From the comments I received, I realise that Mary Oliver’s words speak to many of us in ways that I find hard to describe.

When Hazel died, a friend sent me the poem, The Swan, reproduced below. Hazel truly was the swan in my life for seventeen years – my armful of white blossoms. She made me realise what beauty is for.

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

15 thoughts on “The Swan

  1. Rowan says:

    This is a lovely poem and Hazel was a beautiful cat, our animal friends leave such a huge gap in our lives when they leave us.

  2. Verena says:

    Hi Kate,Hazel really was a beautiful and elegant cat, I´m sorry that she can´t be with you anymore! I like the poem very much, although I don´t understand every word, the meaning of it is clear. It´s good to remeber sometimes, especially when you feel time is running through your fingers and you can´t say why.I hope you have a good sunday (without much snow), lots of greetings, Verena

  3. jodi says:

    My dear friend, you sound rather elegaic the past few days. Cats do leave pawprints all over our hearts long after they have gone on. In time the grief tempers–and it takes years, often–and the warmth remains. Hazel was obviously a joy to you and your family, but one day a new joy will come along to put more pawprints on you. 🙂 Hugs from jodi in suddenly snowy NS

  4. teeni says:

    Awww, Kate. Your Hazel was a gorgeous creature. I’m sure she gave you plenty of joy as I’m sure you also provided her with a warm, loving, and secure home. I had my best buddy, my cat Peanut Butter, for 25 years and still miss her to this day. I have opened my home to new cats – Toast and Jam now. They will never replace my Peanut Butter but I can give them a good home and they do provide me with their own comforts and entertainment. They are loved for their own personalities. 😉 That poem was lovely.

  5. Andrea's Garden says:

    Hi Kate, I agree so much. Animals are sensitive to our needs. Since we have gotten Stella from the shelter this spring, my health improved trememdously. I just said today to my husband that I couldn’t imagine not having Stella around anymore. Hopefully, we will have many more years together. Andrea

  6. red tin heart says:

    really good. i love the picture of your poor little dear that is gone… it hurts so much to lose something so innocent and dear. the poem is wonderful. xoxo nita

  7. nikkipolani says:

    She’s beautiful, Kate. I can see why the poem reminds you of her. I cherish the glimpses of beauty and grace in our humble pets.

  8. this is my patch says:

    It is hard to lose a pet, I got very attached to one of my neighbour’s cats and was very upset when it just disappeared, I still miss him, he was so loveable. x

  9. Bert says:

    Your Hazel sounds like my Eb. He He’s been gone almost ten years now, but his total devotion and unique personality will never be forgotten. And I still miss him every day despite the dog and two cats that now share our lives with us.

  10. Abby Creek Art says:

    Hazel was adorable, Kate…a sweet angel. She looks like Abby in a cat costume with her beautiful white coat. We can see them in the clouds I think. xoxo

  11. Laura says:

    wow, that poem!! it is soothing to me as i think of my wonderful marie who died this past summer. i still think about her every day and fern and hazel are so fun they really have brightened my life. hazel is still partly a mystery to me, she has a very complex personality and i am still figuring her out. i will definitely post new pics of the kittens this friday, i hope you see them. laura

  12. Clare says:

    Hi Kate — Your photo of sweet Hazel brought tears to my eyes, and I’m really glad you feel her presence. I still feel my last dog’s presence — he died in 2000. And, The Swan poem deeply spoke to my soul — thank you so much for including it.:)

  13. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Hazel had such a wonderful purrrrrrsonality, that comes across very clearly from all that you’ve written about her. Of course you miss her, you and I we need our little furry friends in our arms, homes and our hearts. Lovely pic of Heather but what is she doing in my laundry basket? ;-)Beautiful poem Kate, like you I love poetry.Come to Bliss, there’s a post waiting for you that I’m sure you will enjoy.

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