The Swan: A Mother’s Day dedication

May 10, 2020, 2:51 p.m.

“I struggled to find the words to thank you”

is what the draft of my Instagram post said

and I was going to leave it to Billy Collins.

But as I scrolled through pictures I might

collage into some glimpse of who you are

for someone who doesn’t know you, I found 

the real struggle. How do I show them

the teenage girl who left home

to chase dreams across the world

at nineteen, or the mother who carried

five boys through communes, camper vans,

inner city apartments, or the woman who swept

streets to feed her children, rubber bands holding

her hair up, overalls stained with sweat and

downtown dredge. Who could know the lady 

who, after her babies left, after all that, after 

her hair turned from chestnut to silver,

her cheeks etched with time

and tears, still lives so fully,

a swan who just landed, gliding 

on a fresh pond, its surface scintillating 

with twinkles she put in each of our eyes, 

like the stars that are born and live and die 

in her smile, her lips exhaling cigarettes burned 

down to the filter, their embers bright enough for the

darkest confession, smoke curling like notes of a mandolin 

playing soft nostalgia for places you’ve never been.

And I realized that Billy Collins –– and I ––

don’t know shit. Still, Dear Mother,

here is your Lanyard, and here is your Mother’s Day

dedication, in the pages of The Stanford Daily.

Contact Nestor Walters at waltersx ‘at’

Nestor was born in Bangladesh, raised in Greece, and served 10 years in the U.S. Navy. He studied math as an undergraduate, and now studies applied mathematics and oceans as a master's student at Stanford.

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