Martin Robertson

Now and Then

Fairy Story

Her blistered fingers stumbling at their task

as time ran short

yet she completed of her nettlework

all but the second sleeve of the twelfth shirt,

leaving her youngest brother one swan’s wing

—strong and beautiful

but powerless and grotesque

where a man’s arm should spring.

Would he then,

since he could never wholly be a man,

happily have remained

an air-and-water-wandering swan?

Or did he gratefully recover

mankindness with its gifts and pains,

even proud perhaps to suffer

the flaunting symbol of a difference?