Leda & the Swan


I guess you’ve heard that swans are violent creatures. Reptile-shapes that fell asleep in the snow and woke up shining. So I don’t have to tell you that when I was young, I was attacked by a swan, large and screaming, white as an egg. It was nesting season, thick spring, pink jelly raindrops alighting in the pond nearby. The swan rose before me, marshmallow soft, neck twisting like taffy, took my dark wings in its black beak and tore.


Eyes fell from my feathers, scattered like pearls. It swallowed all but two like hard candy. The swan ripped me open, dug golden dust from behind my ribs, swallowed my second heart still-beating. It licked the blue fur from my body, left me naked as a shucked oyster. Its white wings darked the sky.


The swan opened my body and filled me with eggs, shells cracking, yolk into blood. Then sewed my thorax shut with spiderweb strands of honey. The swan became a cloud. Left my body bleeding in the sweet and sticky rain. And this, you know, is how girls are made.


Jade Hurter is an MFA candidate at the University of New Orleans, where she teaches freshman composition and works with the Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Animal, Thank You For Swallowing, New South, and elsewhere.