Flamingo Watching

By Kay Ryan b. 1945 Kay Ryan
Wherever the flamingo goes,   
she brings a city’s worth
of furbelows. She seems
unnatural by nature—
too vivid and peculiar
a structure to be pretty,
and flexible to the point   
of oddity. Perched on
those legs, anything she does   
seems like an act. Descending   
on her egg or draping her head   
along her back, she’s
too exact and sinuous
to convince an audience
she’s serious. The natural elect,   
they think, would be less pink,   
less able to relax their necks,   
less flamboyant in general.
They privately expect that it’s some   
poorly jointed bland grey animal   
with mitts for hands
whom God protects.

Kay Ryan, “Flamingo Watching” from Flamingo Watching. Copyright © 1994 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission of Copper Beech Press <copperbeechpress.com>.

Source: Flamingo Watching (Copper Beech Press, 1994)

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Poet Kay Ryan b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Pets, Relationships

 Kay  Ryan

Biography

Born in California in 1945 and acknowledged as one of the most original voices in the contemporary landscape, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry, including Flamingo Watching (2006), The Niagara River (2005), and Say Uncle (2000). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Ryan's tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Pets, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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