It happened one summer that a curse fell on my family. The details aren’t important. We could be here all night with who married whom and who cursed what. There was a curse, that’s all you need to know.
All seven of my brothers were turned into swans. From loud, hard-handed boys, they became mute birds, with wings as white as cloud and eyes as dark as heaven.
There was a great deal of chaos. There usually is, when someone turns into a bird. They went mad indoors and had to be ushered out into the gardens, to flap and sulk and arch their necks in beautiful reproach.
The wise woman of the woods came to me, with her hair wrapped up in leaf and copper wire. She told me that I was given the task of weaving seven shirts in silence, and only then would they be restored to human form.
A single word spoken, a single stitch unsewn, and they would be swans forever.
As soon as the wisewoman left the room, I pitched my spindle into the fire and sang aloud the raunchiest song I knew.
I never liked my brothers. They made much better swans.