Author’s Note: “Sometimes when I sit quietly and pay attention, the story tells itself. Watching the pelicans, I began to contemplate the way life balances itself out: sometimes together, sometimes alone. We need both. I recently returned to the spot that inspired this poem. There’s a little restaurant there now. I ordered fish tacos in honor of the pelicans. They are still doing cartwheels. And so am I.”
Today at sunset
on a block of stone
once used to step up
from the beach to the terrace
of this abandoned restaurant
I watch a pair of pelicans
bomb for fish.
Wings spread like freedom
grace and courage in unison
they glide above the roil
where the waves break
single-minded in their pursuit
until one dives with abandon
in a breakneck cartwheel flop.
How reckless hunger makes us!
His neck stretched long in triumph
throat bulging, he swallows his prey
wholly forgets his mate left bobbing
disappearing behind a crest of wave.
Now the orange horizon hosts a half sun
fluorescent in its descent and I step up
into the abandoned space, arms spread
wide, contemplating cartwheels.
Shirley Hilton’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Briefly Write, Backchannels, and The Edison Literary Review, among others. Her poems “Dance” and “Maria Arena” were set to music by jazz musician Ryan Middagh. Writing from Iowa, she is a personal coach and blogs about work and life at: shirleyhilton.com. She is currently completing her first novel.
Delmarva Review is a nonprofit literary journal publishing the best of new poetry and prose selected from thousands of submissions annually. Financial support comes from tax-deductible contributions, sales, and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.