I saw a black swan on the river today,
swimming in the ice-cold morning air.
Alone the black swan made its way without a care-
one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen,
the swan captured my attention
and stimulated my imagination almost immediately.
The stark contrast of its beautiful black feathers and its red beak
to the white of the surrounding snow.
As it made its way down the river
the black swan looked up at me as it passed me,
and for a second we two exchanged a gaze that stunned me-
so much so that I watched until it left my sight
and went to where I was unable to follow.
I had never seen a black swan before, but on this day of all days
I was not lost on the significance of its symbolism and meaning.
Seeing the black swan,
as I made my way to say my final goodbye to a good friend,
made me stop and think
on this personal journey of remembrance that I was taking,
that the world was trying to tell me something,
that I was going to receive a gift on this day
that would be for me and for me alone to understand,
but the consequence of that would be heart-breaking.

I had attended my friends funeral, but I hadn’t really said goodbye;
I had written a poem describing how I felt about their passing,
but I felt that I hadn’t really spoken to them as I always had;
I felt that simply attending my friends funeral service
and sharing my sorrow with their family was not enough-
in my mind, I thought that I needed to go back to their grave
and reconnect with them in some way,
so that I may hear them again,
and maybe I would stop feeling sad.

The snow covered everything in the graveyard,
but I remembered where the body of my friend now lay
without a second thought.
The wind was bitterly-cold as I stood facing the frozen Earth
above and below the now empty shell of my friend.
As I spoke to them in hushed-tones hoping that they could hear me,
because I knew that my memory was quickly fading
and that time was growing short.
After standing with my head bowed in solace and in silence
remembering everything that I could about my friend,
an image of the black swan that I had seen began to grow in my mind
until it was all that I could think about-
and then, above me, to my awe, shock, and astonishment,
I looked up and saw a black swan flying in the sky over-head,
and I fell to the ground at the sight of the black swan’s wings
outstretched like a dark angel ascending to the white-coloured clouds.
After regaining my footing,
I was fortunate to just catch the sight of the black swan
before it disappeared into the fog of the horizon-
as I did I swore that I heard my name being spoken somewhere far-away
in a whisper that I could barely hear,
but its depth of resonance was unmistakable-
like the crashing waves of an ocean.

Making my way home, the gift that I had received continued to ring in my head.
My memory of the swan that I had seen was glowing,
as if I had seen it in infrared.
I felt this feeling in my heart that my friend was still here in some way-
that their part to play in the universe was now proceeding on a different path-
that they will return to life in other forms, their essence will never be gone.
I had thought it impossible to accept the truth of my friends death,
and to try and reconcile the reason for his return to the source of all life,
until I saw the beauty, and caught the gaze, of the black swan.