The Archibald Rutledge Prize
Winter 2005
Dennis Ward Stiles

Pelican Mantras

1. The feather is more than a hair.
    The feather is more than a fishscale.
    Enough said.

2. God created the water
    and filled it with food.
    Fish rise. I eat them.
    More rise. I eat them.

3. God created air, rocks
    dead trees.
    I fly through his breath
    I sleep on his finger.

4. There is no beak like my beak.
    Come over here, gulls
    sandpipers, herons, crabs.
    Worship my beak. Stare.

5. Try, you others, to splash
    the way I splash.
    You are skimmers and dippers.
    Small stuff in the waves.

6. Blessed is the leader in flight.
    Blessed are the first and last to follow.
    Blessed alone, blessed together.
    Wingtip to wingtip.

7. Break open my eggs, enemies.
    I have hidden others.
    Even my eggs
    have the wisdom of grandfathers.
©2005 Dennis Ward Stiles