Jasmine An

Rare Bird Sighting, or,
Persona Poem as the Only Asian Person on the Entire Beach

“It was like seeing aliens arrive,” says a seasonal biologist with a degree in ornithology. “It’s unprecedented for them to be here, so something really unusual is happening.” 1

It's hard to hide a white bird
with a nine foot wingspan.
I try to blend in with the Wood Ducks,
but they hiss and scuttle off.
I think something about my pouch
scares them. They've got ducklings.
I guess they're worried I'll swallow
one by mistake, but come on,
I only eat fish — I promise.
I’m just looking for a way to be
a little less conspicuous in this marsh.
I always know when there's a telescope
trained on me. The fish
taste sour and the water
tingles like a chemical spill.
Did you know, each time
a camera clicks, it’s the sound
of a pelican losing its mind?
Our eyesight isn’t that good.
We can’t stare you down,
not like those Bald Eagles
who eat alone, dropping
from on high to snag their catch.
We hunt cooperatively, chase
the fish into each others’ mouths.
And when one of us takes off,
the rest of us follow. We fly from
Mexico to Canada yearly,
looking for somewhere
your cameras can’t follow.

1 Campbell, Katie. Puget Sound Has New Climate Refugees. They’re Pelicans.

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her first chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. Her work can be found in or is forthcoming HEArt, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Waxwing, and The Blueshift Journal, among others. She is an editor for Agape Editions, a Hedgebrook alumna and a PhD student in the English & Women's Studies program at the University of Michigan.

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