Pelican

I watched the pelicans today
Alone with stranger company.
I watched them sleeping, in folded forms
Like six strewn pillows, they lay 
On the rock in St James’ Park
Where watchfulness did charge the air

A ripple of wakefulness 
Skimmed through the company
Limbs and wings and things were limbered;
Unfolding, painfully, into the grey morning
Spectators of this prehistoric pageantry
Thrilled, heads turned, full circle.

An ink-tipped wing unfolded
A span so great, so striking, as to make
The distance and our separation more marked.
I couldn’t wade but felt the water would be 
As cool as breath, and how refreshed to rest 
In the downy rock-strewn company

Propelled to wake, a strange physiognomy
Rubber-necks rolling, snapping bucket-bills 
Unhinged, and gaping, gulping a silent laugh
A leg was raised, the comical coryphée
Shot out a marigold-shod pterydactyl limb
Hair tuft-topped, like an unkempt Heaney.

A farce of grace, they woke ungainly
And stalked their space on stocky limbs
Like stooges, firstly mocked, then pitied
Proportions pilloried, until they preened
And beak to breast they catch my breath 
And cast a coal-black bug-eye stare 

Comfort me, Pelican Pierrots, 
Not by your form that you are known
But heraldry that claimed your heart 
Was wounded for another’s sake
Sweet Pelican, that this would alter
My morning’s watching.  I am awake.

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