American Life in Poetry: Column 518

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Several years ago, Judith Kitchen and I published an anthology of poems about birds, and since then I keep finding ones I wished we’d known about at the time. Here’s one by Barbara Ellen Sorensen, who lives in Colorado.

Pelican

Under warm New Mexico sun,
we watched the pelican place
himself down among the mallards
as if he had been there all along,
as if they were expecting the large,
cumbersome body, the ungainliness.
And he, sensing his own unsightly
appearance, tucked his head close
to his body and took on the smooth
insouciance of a swan.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2013 by Barbara Ellen Sorensen from her most recent book of poems Compositions of the Dead Playing Flutes, (Able Muse Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Ellen Sorensen and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.