after The Children of Lir, an Irish myth

I was turned into a swan yesterday;
it still stuns me,
still stings.
But my stepmother let me keep my voice,
so I can sing. Sad songs like this,
well wouldn’t you?
with nothing more to do
than swim in circles, dive and dip
remembering the ghosts
of my own fingertips,
my own bare toes,
my unfeathered skin… oh where…
oh where do I begin
to list all the things that I will miss
now that all I was is…
yellow feet; black tongue; beady eyes;
sharp hard beak;
and widest whitest wings to fly…
but even up here as I soar
I wish for who I was before,
remembering laughter and hopes
and tears; and dancing and feasts
and underbed fears…
                all lost…

                         all gone.
I was Fionnula.
I am swan.




Sophie Kirtley is a prize-winning poet and children’s author. She grew up in Northern Ireland, where she spent her childhood climbing on hay bales, rolling down sand dunes and leaping the raw Atlantic waves. Sophie’s debut novel, The Wild Way Home, was published by Bloomsbury in 2020; it was Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month and was selected for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. Sophie’s second novel, The Way to Impossible Island, was published in 2021. Sophie’s first love is poetry and her poems have featured in anthologies published by The Emma Press and Macmillan.