Late Spring Ringmaster by Mary Belardi Erickson

A lone pelican lands on the slough
beside the barn–
a gawkish bird gliding
onto the murky water,
a flap and beating of wings–
then, a hump of white feathers suspended,
the long orange bill tucked
against his chest.

Pelicans usually stay in large groups
like a carnival of white and orange,
a noisy bunch on parade
content with no less than a feast.
Their feats can marvel, indeed:
gulping and swallowing fish whole,
squawking and swooping to fill pouches.
Young mouths drop open
in hungry wonder.

Many minutes pass
while the moment remains
on the still water
where algae spread
and reeds grow thickly
concealing a thousand watching eyes.
The motionless pelican floats–
posing, as if waiting
to be painted.


Mary Belardi Erickson was born in New Jersey and today lives in the countryside of Minnesota. Her work appears in various online magazines and in print, including the Aurorean, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, and Avocet: Journal of Nature Poems. Her poems appear in Silver Boomer’s From the Porch Swing €”memories of our grandparents, and Sephryrus Press’s No Fresh Cut Flowers: The Afterlife Anthology.  Her e-chapbook, Back-stepping Between Two Bridges, can be read at   To read more of Mary’s poetry at WIZ click here and here.

€œLate Spring Ringmaster € was previously published in Avocet: Journal of Nature Poems.

*contest entry*


2 thoughts on “Late Spring Ringmaster by Mary Belardi Erickson”

  1. The motionless pelican floats–
    posing, as if waiting
    to be painted.

    This poem is so visual for me that it does affect as if you’ve successfully painted the pelican. I like the word turnaround in lines 12 and 13–“feast” and “feats”. Nice.

    Another aspect of this poem I enjoy is its layers: the pelican on the surface, pelicans as flocks but at other times–not this one, and the eyes below the surface.


  2. Patricia, thanks for the details in your critique. I’m glad you like the poem. On my way home from my brother’s today, I saw pelicans, a welcome sight on the waters.


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