Abyss & Apex : May/June 2004: Swansong

SWANSONG Illustration


by Kyri Freeman


My sister believes she saved me.

At dawn, as I rose calling from the mirror lake, she threw a net over me. Harsh brown threads choked me. My trapped wings thrashed. I beat at the water with my long neck and I cried out, and then pain cracked open the world and I changed.

Man in the homespun shirt my sister made: her homely spell, to save me from the curse.

A witch turned me into a swan. I have forgotten why.

My sister saved me. Saved me for God’s congregation, rank with the sweat of honest merchants in their wool. Saved to tug my forelock when the carriage rattles past. Saved for the mindless malevolence of penned chickens’ eyes.

For months afterward I woke tangled in blankets, my shoulders iron-hard and racked with pain, my arms bruised black from striking the bedposts: trying in my sleep to fly.

I was cursed into the form of a swan. Cursed to wheel above the bluegreen spires of icebergs as they crash. To nest in tundra heather under a deathless sun. To know the gyre of windrush over the world. To call out, flying, flying, heir to a wilderness of air. Call to a comrade, trumpeting, and hear a comrade reply.

Our father died while I was gone. But he left us his potter’s shop. She tells me this with pride.

Running before the storm, my brothers call, wild whiteness in the sky. I stare after them until night strikes me blind. I cannot call.


Kyri Freeman lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California. A survivor of graduate school in History at UCLA, she now writes and is working toward a Library and Information Sciences degree. Kyri is currently working with a literary agent to sell her first novel, tentatively entitled Tribulation’s War. Her short fiction has also appeared in Ideomancer


Copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted.


Art Director: Bonnie Brunish

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