I Asked For A Word And She Sent Me Pelican and Ten Years Ago at the Tate

by Gillian Nevers


I Asked For A Word And She Sent Me Pelican.

How was she to know two days ago
I stood on a bridge spanning the Fox River
watching white pelicans ride thermals,
like hawks. Below a group gathered on cold water,
dipping their heads below the wintry surface,
fishing for gizzard shad and emerald shiners.

I’m used to pelicans in hot climates.
Brown birds flying in formation, low-gliding
birds swooping over sun-sparkling water.
Squadrons of them skimming over
the Caribbean. Brown pelicans rising,
falling in rhythm with waves, plunge-
diving beneath the surface, surfacing,
small stunned fish filling their pouches.


Ten Years Ago at the Tate

Enchanted by Millais’ Ophelia
floating into oblivion, her hair
fanning gold and red in the current,
evanescent in sunlight, soft rose
blushing her pale cheeks, and I—
so in love with the idea of her
singing herself to death, so caught
in a stream of romance—missed
other rooms: Turner.
Sea-scapes. Storm-scapes.
Blacks and purples swirling
grays, skies brewing stirring
wildness. Whirlwinds of light.
Clouds more golden.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Gillian Nevers, Madison, Wisconsin, became a “serious” poet in 2002. Since then, her poems have appeared in several online and print publications. Her poem, “Playing for Keeps,” won second prize in the 2008 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters statewide poetry contest. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011. In addition to writing poetry, Nevers is the membership coordinator for the Wisconsin Fellowship of poets and writes the Markets column for the WFOP’s Museletter. She also teaches poetry to elementary school children and poetry, fiction and non-fiction to adults for Road Scholars. For several years Nevers has collaborated with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art organizing poetry readings in the galleries.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Art Education, Nevers had a long career working with victims of crime. Since her retirement in 2000, she has coordinated an annual conference for two national crime victim associations — a part-time job that she continues to retire from but somehow manages to sign up for “just one more year.” Why not? She gets to spend time in a different, interesting city every year, catch up with former colleagues, and still have time to write.
Every March for over twenty years Nevers and her husband have spent two to three weeks in the Yucatan. She can usually be found in the quiet beachside community of Puerto Morelos, but, every so often will take a side trip to Valladolid and Merida.

Silk Road
Miller’s Pond
Wisconsin People and Ideas
Pierenes Fountain
California Quarterly
Verse Wisconsin
Oak Bend Review
Right Hand Pointing
Architrave Press
Merida Review
Echolocations: Poets Map Madison

* * * * * * * * * * * *


photograph by Angela M Campbell


2 thoughts on “I Asked For A Word And She Sent Me Pelican and Ten Years Ago at the Tate

  1. Christine Junkins says:

    I don’t know which one I like the most! But i love Ophelia and your lyrical description of her! it makes me see her…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s