Once upon a time, in another life, I tried to write a poem about pelicans, and it began like this:“Once I stood on packed sand still dark with the receding tide on an afternoon that couldn’t decide not to be winter, on a barrier island named for wild horses, at the dune-drifted, grass-whispered margin of the Gulf of Mexico…”
After this point, the words changed and shifted like shoals every time I looked at it. It was never right. The poem hemmed and hawed and finally got around to trying to describe the birds that remind me so much of pterosaurs. Every time I see the creature, I travel back to the Cretaceous in my mind:“Pelicans slip the air streams like ancient machines perfectly designed for what they need to do, all hooked bill and hollow bone, sailed wings sending shadows ripping across the waves…”
Or something like that. I put the poem away, unfinished, with all my poems years ago. Now I take pictures. So here are a few photos of my favorite bird, the brown pelican. I think they have inspired me to try to finish the poem. (Maybe.)
It’s amazing how a creature that is so graceful and strong in the air, like a glimmer of prehistory reminding me of the largest flying creatures the world has ever seen, becomes kind of cute and dorky when he’s waddling around on the land.
Just for the curious: The first 3 photos were taken in Edisto Beach in SC last August and the last 2 were taken at the Outer Banks in April.