And the great White Pelicans

lifted themselves with such
grace that I felt some blessing fall upon us
from the black-tipped wings gathering air
pulling themselves away from earth
as though a white shawl had shook itself
then folding back in the wind, took our breath
from us with long orange-yellow beaks
then circled back, on Marsh Island
on ocean shore, sand, grass
black feet gathered into some
300 count of white plumage—
magnificent restless stalking
we unwilling to leave what we were given
so that turning away, our hearts stirred
by the splendor of a thing
I stared longingly over our wake
nothing illusory in the parting white foam
nothing unreal in the beating wings.

Poem by Libby Bernardin
Photograph by Phil Wilkinson