Simple Truth simply spoken:  Look again.

Kay Ryan, our nation’s Poet Laureate and WVFC’s featured poet during April, National Poetry Month, is in some ways willing to be underestimated.  Speaking her profound truths with simplicity and wit, she causes us to recognize what is profound in the simple and leaves us with questions as much as answers.  What have we deemed ridiculous because it was too unexpected, she asks here.  What do you answer during this month devoted to the complex truths that poetry reveals?


Flamingo Watching

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 the author and Copper Beech Press.

For more like this from Women’s Voices for Change, follow us on Twitter and become a fan of our Facebook page!

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Shelley April 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    “Willing to be underestimated”–I’m thunderstruck by that phrase. It’s not just a phrase: it’s a new concept.