Poetry: Flamingo by Cheryl Pearson

Beauty by ambush may best describe Cheryl Pearson’s “Flamingo”. The poem meditates on its namesake with wit and wisdom and a freshness of imagery that calls out for publication. The yolk and wine and flaming knots and throats—Pearson has managed a taut line, quick, direct, between delight and wisdom. Frost would be proud.


As though the gas was left on high, and a match
struck. And now the pale flames are licking at the glass

with long tongues of rosy light. Or else the yolk
of sunrise broke, and washed each bird in its blush,

the way red wine defies salt and sponge.
Some are soft; white lace held against a girl’s cheek,

a peach growing down in the Spring. Others blaze,
their doubles locked at a hot-pink foot.

All are exquisite. Their glad wings
sweeten the water.

The weight of it. All that beauty.
No wonder their flushed backs

sway underneath it. No wonder
the knobs of their knees are braced –

studs of colour, a bud on a branch,
the knot on the rope of a boat in the harbour.

Light as meringues. As delicate.
You describe them solely

in breakable language – eggshell, teacup,
hummingbird, wrist.

Do you think you are capable
of grace like this? To step into cracked water,

and mend it? The vase of the throat opens.
The mouth brims with roses. How can the earth bear it?

Like love is borne; that other light
that burns, and cannot be extinguished.


Cheryl Pearson

Cheryl Pearson lives and writes in Manchester in the North West of England. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Southword, The High Window, Under The Radar, Poetry NorthWest, Crannog and Envoi. She won first prize in the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature 2016, and third prize in Bare Fiction Magazine’s national poetry competition in the same year. She has been shortlisted for the York Literature Festival Prize and the Princemere Poetry Prize, and was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Her first full poetry collection, “Oysterlight”, was published in March 2017, and is available now from Amazon and Pindrop Press.

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