Parable of the Swallows

In those first days of songless absence, centuries 
ago, scientists swore swallows dove

into lakes and rivers, spent winters submerged—
breath held, silt-swaddled; so much so  

that they solicit fishermen to draw the swallows up
in nets so they might have proof, revive them. 

Other hearsay goes, the people of the towns assumed
the swallows shed their feathers, shrank 

into tree hollows, survived on sun-gained stores,
could go unseen so long as they became 

unrecognizable. It was a comfort 
that swallows might persist as kinds of ghosts.

Another theory at the time proposed a sleep-
flown space migration, the swallows simply 

steering up and stirring only when they felt 
the lunar cold. Winter was a question

charged with loss; a sky of eaves, unnested. 
The swallowless imagined

an enormous possible—in those days, 
the swallow a shorthand for the soul. 


Violeta Garcia-Mendoza is a Spanish-American poet, writer, and photographer. She is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops and a reader for Split Rock Review/Press. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Peatsmoke, The Dewdrop, and Saint Katherine Review.  Violeta lives with her family in Western Pennsylvania. You can find her online at and on IG @violeta.garcia.mendoza and Twitter @VioletaGMpoet.