A Pelican Feeding Her Young by Angela Sucich

A Pelican Feeding Her Young
by Angela Sucich

Illuminated folio, 13th c. Flemish manuscript 

It isn’t religion this 
sacrificing that mothers 
are expected to do. Sure, 
some might plunge beak into breast
and draw forth their own blood as
pelicans were once thought to—
it isn’t true, though I find 
a fluid homology:
So my mother didn’t nurse 
me but rocked and rocked until 
I slept. My own babe drinks till 
I’m bloodless, while I thirst for 
rest that I will never get.
Consider then the vulning 
pelican—from the Latin 
vulnerare, or “to wound,” 
a more poetic notion 
than the chewed-up fish sliding
down her chest to feed her young 
(though maybe I’ve done that, too). 
It does show the messiness 
of parenting, how I have
become we, and if this is
piety, also how I
am not alone in it. Yet
the old books get it wrong when
they depict her as a fierce
eagle instead of the pouch-
neck she is. So heroic, 
who can live up to it? Show 
her ample gullet, how she
can still fly and hunt, provide
for her young. If a motto
flies on herald somewhere, let
it not say a pelican
“in her piety;” let it
read, “in her entirety.”

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Angela Sucich holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of Washington. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Nimrod International Journal, Cave Wall, and Atlanta Review, and she was honorably mentioned for the 2021 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. In 2022, her chapbook, Illuminated Creatures, won the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition and will be published by Finishing Line Press.

Website: www.angelasucich.com

IG: @angelasucich

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