Ray Osborn

The Swans on a Sandbar


For Alice Alsup
June 26, 1990 ­ June 9, 2014


How unbeautiful

that they do not fly or glide across the water,     against the current,      easy as standing still.
But they stand still on this desert oasis.

They have found peace on the sandbar, away

from the     unpredictable pull of current     and tide     water still like icy sheets
taunting of hungers unfulfilled.

I don’t blame them,     for they are beautiful,     and somehow manage symmetry in fives.
The chintzy one in the middle insists on distance,

she must be seen,
she must be free to fold

and unfold those wings as if swelling brassy.

Sometimes I wish I were watching you as this swan.     The two of you

would have circled the world countless times     if only to prove you could, with ease,
bringing back quiet wisdom of a rowdy love.

If only to come back.     So that you could rest on the sandbar,     serene,

as one regal soul flaunting recognition.

This will not be your last swan song.


The Hypocrite Reader is free, but we publish some of the most fascinating writing on the internet. Our editors are volunteers and, until recently, so were our writers. During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we decided we needed to find a way to pay contributors for their work.

Help us pay writers (and our server bills) so we can keep this stuff coming. At that link, you can become a recurring backer on Patreon, where we offer thrilling rewards to our supporters. If you can't swing a monthly donation, you can also make a 1-time donation through our Ko-fi; even a few dollars helps!

The Hypocrite Reader operates without any kind of institutional support, and for the foreseeable future we plan to keep it that way. Your contributions are the only way we are able to keep doing what we do!

And if you'd like to read more of our useful, unexpected content, you can join our mailing list so that you'll hear from us when we publish.