Managing Your Flamingo
“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo…” –Lewis Carroll
“Eccentric” is the word they seize
After weeks of polite groping
For the name of your behavior problem.
For you insist on holding on
To this pink exotic wading
Bird. They say your flamingo is showing.
There’s nowhere to hide it, really.
Etiquette declines to mention
How to keep the neck straight, the beak polished,
How to stop people from glimpsing
The forbidden fiery plumage,
The uncontrollable tropical toes.
(from my collection Madam, Your Daughter is Molting, ISBN 0-944920-10-1
Originally appeared in the Seattle Review.)
Oh so many years ago I walked the two miles home from my poetry class and had an epiphany–under the gleaming branches and glancing Seattle sunlight: I was meant to choose the writer’s way. My fascination with words, and the words behind the words, would create my reality. I longed for my reality to bring meaning and healing and excitement to other people, as well as myself. I had intended to be a physician. Yet ultimately writing was the only road I could choose, the only road that made sense of my unique physical stew of rich memories, deep hopes, acute awareness, and rare sensitivities.
Later I would dance along my way, limp along my way, march along my way, and even stop along my way. But the writer’s way was the only way for me.
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