by Mark Thalman

A swan slides across a reflection of sky.
On the opposite bank, a tall, dark-haired man in a tuxedo
escorts his bride, who also glides like a beautiful bird
in her long white gown.  They are having their reception
in the Dampier Chateau.  I remember taking this photo
while the critical care nurse informs me
that the small transparent hoses inserted in my neck
are called “swan tubes.”  They loop through
the jugular and down to heart and lungs
forming the shape of swans
to measure function and pressure,
administer medicine.  

A day later, the nurse tells me to sit up straight,
take a deep breath, hold it, and stay very still—
same as an x-ray.  Standing slightly behind me,
he pulls in one long steady motion . . .
wings lifting through my veins.


Mark Thalman’s book Catching the Limit will be published in
2008 by Bed Bug Press as part of their Northwest Writers Series.  
His work has been published in
Carolina Quarterly, CutBank,
Natural Bridge, and Pennsylvania Review, among others.  
Thalman teaches English in the public schools.

On “Swans”:
I started writing “Swans” as I was recuperating at home after my
quadruple bypass surgery.  I wanted to express the beauty of a
photo I took in France while visiting my sister, and I wanted to
compare that to the wonder and beauty of this life-saving
operation.  Waking up in that hospital bed connected to all the
wires and tubes, I have never been so elated and thankful to be
alive.  The operation has changed the way I live and view my life.  
Every day, I stop and appreciate being here with my wife and
family, and being able to write another poem.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 3, Number 1
(Spring 2008)

Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.