Friday, May 22, 2009

The Stonebound Swan

Once there was a swan who swallowed a worry-stone.

This happens from time to time. It's good for swans to swallow stones; it helps them digest. The problem is, there's no way to tell a worry-stone from a regular stone.

Worry-stones tend to grow.

Soon the swan found herself getting heavier and heavier. She was afraid to go into the water because she would sink. Flight became just a distant dream.

When fall came, her sister-swans all boomed into the air and headed south. The stonebound swan stayed by the side of the lake where she had spent the summer. She missed her sisters, but she found the lake curiously peaceful without them. Never before had she stayed in one place to watch the seasons change.

Slowly the reeds dried up and grew brown. The lily-pads shrivelled up and exposed the surface of the water, even as the leaves fell from the trees around the lake. “It's as if the world is taking off its clothes,” thought the swan. She would have been happy if only she could have swum, but she was afraid of sinking.

Then one morning, she woke to find the lake frozen over.

The swan had never seen such a thing before. She watched the ice melt as the pale winter sun rose higher into the sky. But the next morning the ice was back, thicker than ever.

Before long the lake was frozen all day and night, solid enough for the stonebound swan to walk on. It was harder for her to find food, but she didn't mind. She was fascinated by this new and different world: dry leaves underfoot everywhere, bare branches arching against the grey sky, small animals burrowing and preparing to sleep. The swan's plumage kept her warm even on the coldest nights, even though she was hungry most of the time.

The nights became bright, as moonlight reflected off the icy lake and the snow-covered ground. Snow was the first thing she had ever seen that was as white as a swan.

In the full moon, the swan went walking on the lake, and when she looked around there was a black swan walking beside her. “Little one,” he said, “what are you doing here so late? Or is it so soon?”

“It's late,” said the swan with a sigh. “All my sisters have flown south, but I am stonebound and can't fly.”

“Is that all,” said the black swan. “You could lay that worry-stone down any time you want, you know. Just cough it out.”

“I guess I knew that,” said the stonebound swan.

“Then why didn't you?”

The swan looked around at the snowdrifts spangled with ice crystals and the frost furring the trees. She looked at the frozen lake and the full moon. In all the world, the only things that were not brilliant, blinding white were the sky between the stars and the black swan at her side.

“If I hadn't swallowed that worry-stone,” said the stonebound swan, “I would never have seen all this. I would never have met You.”

“Was it worth it?” the black swan asked.

“Oh, yes,” said the swan. “I'm ready to cough up that stone now.”

And she began to sing.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside


floreta said...

this is a great tale. sometimes we have to go through tough times to figure out better times.

Dee Martin said...

Beautiful how even through the bad things that happen, we can find beauty on the path and a lesson too. Your writing always shines with love :)

linda may said...

What a lovely story, and she survived. Telling us that we can find beauty in the problem and get over it, I wish it were that easy, but such a lovely story.