By Brian Swann Brian Swann

We are in the position of defining myth by the shape of its absence.
-Sean Kane, Wisdom of the Mythtellers

       The bluebird's cold mistimed egg
fetched up from the one-legged
       box after the pair had left for
points south & unknown (never,
       as it turned out, to return) I
renested in the half-geode by
       the windowsill where it gleamed
&, months becoming years, seemed
       about to last forever, grow more
consistent with itself, holding its pure
       blue firmament up over what by now
was nothing, till one January day, snow
       melting to a fast flood,
I blew it softly onto my palm so I could
       hold its cerulean up against new sky,
home against home, where it lay
       weightless & delicate as the Xmas ornament
we'd just put away, but when I went
       to roll it gently back onto its bed,
& leave it there, I saw a thread,
       a crack, another, watched it sink in
slowly on itself, shard on shard collapsing
       from my touch & breath, relaxing
into the shape of its absence

Source: Poetry (December 1998).


This poem originally appeared in the December 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

December 1998


Poet, critic, and translator Brian Swann earned a BA and an MA from Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a PhD from Princeton University. His collections of poetry include Autumn Road (2005), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; Snow House (2006), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize; and In Late Light (2013).
In addition to poetry, Swann has authored numerous collections of fiction, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Brian Swann

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.