Jun. 5, 2001

Swans in Galway Bay

by Floyd Skloot

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Poem: "Swans in Galway Bay," by Floyd Skloot from The Evening Light (Story Line Press).

Swans in Galway Bay

Seven pairs of swans preen
this morning near the docks.
We walk down together
searching among the rocks
for a perfect feather
to commemorate the scene.

The swans float, one foot still
tucked underneath a wing,
the other held steady
as a rudder. They seem
both unconcerned and ready
for whatever the day will

bring them as they drift past.
Soon they are swept away
in pairs where the River
Corrib surges into Galway Bay—
from here just a sliver
of jagged state-blue glass

but fierce enough to spin
them sideways toward the sea.
Paired still, they carry on
their slow ceremonies,
adjusting with utter calm
to the currents they move in,

content, it would appear,
to end up wherever
they find themselves as long
as they are together,
each feather where it belongs,
each mate with a clear
line of site to the other.
We have come to the docks'
end emptyhanded. I turn
back, but she stops to watch,
holding me there as one
small feather drifts to shore.

It's the birthday of the writer of thrillers, Ken Follett, born in Wales in 1949. Follett wrote 10 novels before he wrote his big bestseller, The Eye of the Needle.

It's the birthday of one of Britain's leading playwrights, David Hare, born in St. Leonard, Sussex, England, in 1947. He was an actor in a traveling theatre group called The Portable Theatre when a playwright failed to deliver a play. There were just four days left before the scheduled performance, and there was no play. Hare sat down and wrote a piece of satire, which went well enough that he was commissioned to write another play. And that play, Slag, won him an award for the most promising new playwright in Britain in 1970. He has written many plays since then: Plenty in 1978, his 'State of the Nation' trilogy in the early 1990s, Skylight, Amy's View, The Judas Kiss, and others. David Hare who said: "My first rule of playwriting is that scenes must be rivers, not lakes. They must go somewhere."

It's the birthday of the novelist, Margaret Drabble, born in Sheffield in 1939. She has written 15 novels and several plays and short stories, and is also the editor of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Her most recent novel, The Peppered Moth, came out this year.

It's the birthday of television journalist and author Bill Moyers, born Billy Don Moyers in Hugo, Oklahoma, in 1934. He was a reporter and assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. In 1970, he hopped on a bus and began a 13,000-mile trip across the country, interviewing people. The interviews later became his first book, Listening to America: A Traveler Rediscovers His Country. Bill Moyers once said, "It took me a while after the White House to learn that what's important in journalism is not how close you are to power but how close you are to reality."

It's the birthday of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, born in Fuente Vaqueros, Spain, in 1898. He is known for his poems and his trilogy of plays in the 1930s before he was assassinated by fascists at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

And it was on this day in 1851 that Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly, began to appear in serial form in an abolitionist weekly newspaper, the Washington National Era.

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