Pelican Ballet

Pretending I am an Indian maiden,

I gently dip my paddle in the still waters

of the Snake River below Centennial Park.

Noiselessly, I pass wild yellow iris, willows,

and tufts of canary grass growing

atop huge boulders in the shallow water.


A red-wing blackbird flies out

of the cattails at water’s edge,

and, in the distance, I see

tell-tale white spots on far-off rocks.

As I near the Pelican rookery,

huge white birds stand guard,

their long dagger-beaks resting

against their swan-like, snow-white necks.


The forward sentinel suddenly

takes a little run and rises,

awkwardly at first, and then

her powerful wings gracefully lift

her five-foot-long body into the air.

Following her lead, dozens

of over-sized birds rise from the rocks,

silhouettes against sheer canyon walls.


Soaring, dipping, and circling,

at first they look all-white, and then,

as if choreographed by a ballet master,

they turn as one, dozens of black wingtips

dancing in the sky.


About Judy Grigg Hansen
I write poetry and nonfiction, and I am passionate about the people, places, and wildflowers of Idaho and the Northwest.

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