There are four.
A neighbor says five.
But I'm positive there are four.
She must have counted one twice.
I remember when there used to be one.
That was several years ago.
Whenever I passed the lake,
I hoped I would see it through the trees.
I took it for a talisman.
I knew that if I glimpsed that white fire
against the dark water,
I would have a good day.
Then there were two,
and I began to see the first one differently.
It wasn't a good luck sign anymore.
It was a bird. It had bones.
It had blood. It had feathers.
It ate. It shit. It mated.
Now there are four. My neighbor,
the one who says there are five,
marvels at how much they tolerate the ducks.
Mute swans usually chase ducks, she says.
Anyway, it's nice to have four swans
on the lake. Nevertheless, the truth is
I miss those mornings when I used
to drive along the shore, wondering
when I would be surprised by that single white
gleam gliding on the water in the shape
of the letter of my last name.
I miss that unbird. I miss that unswan.
I miss that talisman, alone.