song of a silver swan
deeply cocooned in a swaddle of soft cozy blankets she lay quietly on the chaise lounge near the hearth – the jewelled hues of the flames mesmerized her as they reflected along the lines of the opalescent damask as she sank deeper and further away from the world around her ---
mary kate knew that she was actively dying and she burned with the fever of her impending death as sound swirled around her as senselessly as the voices at babel must have sounded in their time --- as she contemplated her condition the sounds made little difference to her beyond the fact that they were kind and gentle, filled with caring and calm --- her nieces were watching over her with such love and respect that she’d surely have tears were she not so very dehydrated --- inwardly the tears cascaded around and through her core, bathing her very essence, saturating her spirit with sensations that defied the inevitability of her death and endowing her with a sense of well being that she had experienced all too infrequently ---
free fall could best describe her thought process as she waited contentedly for her demise – her thoughts hopped from hither to yon, like birds drunk on fermented berries, with fragments of disconnected memories ---
she was just your average every day spindly kid – or so she thought at the time – stupid looking and graceless, gawky and clumsy --- it would be many years after she passed the peak of her own personal physical beauty that she could look back in a melancholy to see how truly pretty she had been – certainly far too many years to begin using her good looks upon which to build the self-confidence that she lacked all those many lifetimes later ---
mary kate knew that some of the people around her had tried to buoy her up as a child – uncle leo had always called her “merrily” and smothered her with lavish bear hugs --- he was one of the special and important ones for her and she could now hear his cheery “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream” and in a rush she remembered how he came to call her “merrily” ---
capriciously her recollections shifted their focus and abruptly shining in her mind she was the young woman who was living in a dorm - and the image she saw was the night her dorm mates killed her pet white mouse because they thought it was getting an overdose of vitamins - and she creatively captured her anger by putting lighter fluid on the terrazzo door sills of their rooms and lighting it --- when they came blasting out of their rooms in fear she was waiting with the fire extinguisher and covered every last one of them in foam --- hah!!!
switch!!! to her friend gwen who had helped her acquire an appreciation of candles and incense and freed up that part of her that had always envied but failed to treat herself to their use – together they had done art and amateur tarot readings while secrets were shared but always held in confidence --- so much different than those secrets in childhood that were always the proverbial elephants in the living room ---
she thought unexpectedly of kandy with whom she had been out of touch for years that seemed like a lifetime before they re-established their friendship – she was always wise, spiritual, and pragmatic and held tremendous confidences, all the time being totally supportive during mary kate's fears and sorrows ---
she knew the end was gaining ground now by the speed with which her recollections were flashing - illuminated randomly, speed strobing with scenes of abuse being blotted out by seeing herself trading comic books with the boys on the railroad tracks while the other girls played with their infernal dolls far below – incidents of nursing wounded mourning doves in the poison ivy under the evergreens supplanted by pictures of playing carelessly in the surf with the love of her life --- that first sexual tingle as she rode her bike on a bumpy dirt road, too young to even recognize it for what it was, displaced by mind snaps of the police answering her calls for help as she was battered yet again --- her cousin sylvia who had been so steadfast and patient with her during the really bad times ---
she had a short stark realization of the enormity of what had gone into comprising her life - bringing her full circle from the total dependence of the infant at birth to the total dependence of the infirm actively engaged with death ---
she had no fear – she only hoped death would be tender with her, like the late night walks she and her beloved had enjoyed – she had never hesitated to take his hand, to trust him to keep her safe and warm – she was far too young to be experiencing this phenomena of life, but she hoped she would pass from this life to the next without a moan or a fuss, but rather a silent swan song - so the happy loving noise would be the melody to which she could choreograph her final and solo waltz --- best for them to believe her asleep as she danced with elegance and pride from here to there ---
The phrase "swan song" is a reference to an ancient belief that the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, when it sings one beautiful song.
The well-known Orlando Gibbons madrigal (The Silver Swan) states the legend thus:
The silver Swan, who living had no Note,
when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:
"Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes!
"More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise."