March 13, 2013
Pink and In Flight
We all have images of flamingos.
Someone says the word, and
springing to life there they are:
Perhaps what we see flashing
on the screen inside our head
owes its substance to Walt Disney.
Hippos grasping them by their handle-like beaks,
using them like canes with their wings folded,
in amazingly brilliant colors;
The hippo dancers,
corpulent Fred Astaires,
bending, swaying, twirling
to the bright music.
The faces of the animated flamingos
betraying pain, discomfort, dizziness
as the riverhorses forget the power of their grip,
the speed of their movements.
Or perhaps the image is of the entrance to a zoo,
where a shallow pool shelters 40 or 50
of one of the smaller varieties of flamingos,
plates of pink shrimp set out for them
among the lily pads and undergrowth,
the color in those crunchy, chitinous shells
so necessary to maintain
their garishly beautiful hues.
But my personal favorite image
came when watching them
from the Juticalpa bishop’s rooftop
in the glow of a sunset
already setting the skies ablaze.
Here they were, a dozen or so,
a couple of hundred feet over our heads
– like flying umbrellas unfurled,
and, even seen without the aid
of a movie screen, ridiculous,
leading with their handle beaks,
magnificent, as they crossed the isthmus
that is Central America,
traveling from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico,
ready to land and bend their necks
under their own built-in sleeping shelter;
pink wings, trimmed in black
to snake their long, looping necks under.