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A New Pair by May Swenson

November 15, 1987

Like stiff whipped cream in peaks and tufts afloat the two on barely gliding waves approach. One's neck curves back, the whole head to the eyebrows hides in a wing's whiteness. The other drifts erect, one dark splayed foot lifted along a snowy hull. On thin, transparent platforms of the waves the pair approach each other, as if without intent. Do they touch? Does it only seem so to my eyes' perspective where I stand on shore? I wish them together, to become one fleece enfolded, proud vessel of cloud, shape until now unknown. Tense, I stare and wait, while slow waves carry them closer. And side does graze creamy side. One tall neck dips, is laid along the other's back, at the place where an arm would embrace. A brief caress. Then both sinuous necks arise, their paddle feet fall to water. As I stare, with independent purpose at full sail, they steer apart. May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah, and attended Utah State University, where she received a bachelor of science degree and was recently named Honorary Doctor of Letters. Her first volume of poems, "Another Animal," was selected by John Hall Wheelock as the first in his Scribner's series of Poets of Today. Books Swenson has since published include "A Cage of Spines" (1958), "To Mix With Time: New & Selected Poems" (1963), "Half Sun Half Sleep" (1967) and "New & Selected Things Taking Place" (1978). Swenson has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim grants, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry from Yale University, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

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