The pelican wears my father as her coat;
it’s too heavy to remove without the help of strangers.
It holds the old girl tight the same way
he held me.
I had fed him to the bayou fish
to soften his unyielding bones, mixed
him with Mississippi mud to teach him
to be free.
And just as he was safe and soft,
repentant, belly up in gratefulness,
the water churned and swelled and
Our Mother offered him her oily absinthe:
salt and grit and greed.
Helpless in its grasp, he spun and swirled
until he landed on the bird.
The pelican wears my father as her coat,
too heavy to remove without the help of strangers.
My heart is broken by the photos of oil soaked pelicans.
Pamela Villars lives in Austin, Texas. Her attachment to the Gulf Coast is visceral: much of her family history was flooded by Katrina – her ancestors helped found New Orleans. Her poetry, short stories, and memoir have been published in Tiny Lights Flash in the Pan, Drash Pit, Scalped Magazine, Wanderings Magazine, and Literary Mama. Pamela blogs at Flutter and Muse.