The Numbers

By David Dodd Lee

I counted eight cygnets (and two adult swans) on the river in May but then counted four
cygnets in late June and today the four have turned into three. My next-door neighbors

went from two to no persons then back to two after the deceased
couple who’d lived there’s daughter and husband moved in, then up to five

after the woman’s sister, her sister’s boyfriend, and their child
joined them. A note written on lined notebook paper that I assumed

(on what basis?) was written by the woman’s sister blew into
my yard. It said I want out of this life and I love you Jesus I do

but I don’t care anymore I’m sorry but for now they’re still five. My
house is one and sometimes two, especially on weekends, add

one cat and it goes up to three. I grew up in a house of six and then
there were five and then six again for a while and then five. My

sisters ended up in houses of six, five, and four eventually, I in houses
of two, four for about eight years, two again, now usually one . . .

The eight, four, then three cygnets take all summer to become close to
indistinguishable from their parents and then by spring each relocates

to a different pond river lake where they become two, then four, five, six, seven, etc.,
something you can count until counting no longer seems to matter anymore.

David Dodd Lee is the author of ten books of poems, including Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014) and Orphan, Indiana (University of Akron Press, 2010). He is also a collage artist and his collection of collages, Unlucky Animals, is forthcoming in 2023. Lee is Editor-in-Chief of 42 Miles Press and co-editor of the online literary journal The Glacier. He lives on Baugo Bay, in Indiana.

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