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.