Afternoon with Brown Pelicans

When I sidle close
the pelicans fasten their clothespin faces
more tightly to the sand,
sage and suspicious.

One dips
a violin bow
over its shoulder
and commences to fiddle.

Another shrugs
its head
onto its back.

In a kind of yawn
one then another then another
distend their lower bills

in a gust-pouch,

bubble-gum bubble
they struggle to control
as they stand and gargle
the wind.

I did not know
what made air flow
supple and strange through
the world, what changed it from

to yawn,

every animal lung humming
vibrato of pelican,

wind's waterfall
slung into pelican pouches
across the beaches of the world
and wrung out as air:

light, new, breathable, pink.

As if nothing remarkable had happened
the birds bring
the slide trombone of their bills
in close, lower pouch

A dog barks, a surfer shouts.

The pelicans lift and I hold my breath.

Everything we have is borrowed.

as published in Orion magazine and contained in my 3rd book, Mauled Illusionist


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