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.