Ian C. Smith

Daughter & Trespass With Black Swans

Ian C. Smith

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Daughter

Behind flippancy metaphors circle like mosquitoes.

Her replies arrive on cue since I plunged in,

wished her happy birthday a day late at 4 a.m.,

proposed we stop counting them, her age ending in 9,

our ‘talk’ thin, as enigmatic as a Pinter play.

From an inventory of my own pain I sense hurt,

offer titbits scrooged from that old privacy

the heart strings, then swivel the focus back to her,

learn she lives alone like me in a cottage.

The unselfish share larger premises, I joke,

her innocence as a child ghosting her photo,

cute as a cottage. Warnings flash, grief in arrears,

the soft thud of my newspaper outside this tiny room.


Her last email a year ago bounced.

She didn’t know if I was alive or dead.

I type doomed. She says I can’t help myself.

OK, but LOL? Ouch. I wish it meant lots of love.

Lucky I didn’t essay fugitive or alien on screen.

We shun phones, stick to a keyboard ritual

if rituals can bypass the heft of silence, of years.

She deserves to know more about my stealthy life.

A provocateur, I ask her to be honest.

My inbox fills, hypocrisy a rat’s gnaw, ideas form.

Her men gone, gone, her daughters now switched

to their dad’s side, blame her for family ruin,

conjuring an epilogue of words, doomed still dangling.


Trespass With Black Swans

Truant Reynard, memory of egg-crunch,

cygnets taller, convoy en famille, coats

fluffy grey, prey for him to take for lunch.

Swamp menu varied, waterline high, boats

banned here, high rainfall has hindered his run.

Parent birds usher their flotilla through

weeds as a wedge-tail eclipses the sun,

arcing a current fixed-wing, these true

hunters, fox, raptor, watching, carp-splash, day

dreamer wading flooded paths, sunken heart

weighted, summer furlough a month away

when wild creatures, trespassing me, shall part.

On my return from reading by the sea

grown swans will have flown, this fen hike still free.



Ian C. Smith


Ian C. Smith’s work has appeared in Antipodes, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.