With stilt-like gait they stalk the pool,
Ungainly, coral-hued and strange.
Their claim to beauty rests on shapes
Of oval bodies, sinuous necks
And then the crescent black-white head.

But all this picture counts for nought
When startled; then with raucous squawk
They flap their magic wings
And show
The fascinating black below.
A moment’s panic gives a glimpse
Of utter loveliness. Since then
I’ve never seen so fair a sight –
Wing-clipped flamingoes poised for flight…

Luperon, Dominican Republic. 2006