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Like White Apparitions

By Tom Poland

web posted March 11, 2016
Like
                                                          White
                                                          Apparitions
                                                          Tom PolandLIFE DOWN SOUTH-- Legend holds that the mythic white beast rises like a phantom and conquers all. The fabled white creature that lives in literature and imagination, could it ever be real?

Herman Melville had his great white whale, Moby Dick. Great Aunt Annie held me spellbound as she told stories of “the white thing,” a pale catamount slinking from forests to strike fear into horses that reared and bolted down darkened clay lanes. Today, I realize she was describing an albino Eastern panther, long vanquished from Southern bottomlands.

The Deliverance poet, James Dickey, imagined a mighty albino buck. “The sea-deer I cherish above the mountain deer, even, because I have never seen them doing what I have been told they do: swimming in moonlight from island to island … If I maintained that one of these deer, a huge buck with at least twelve points, is said to be dead white, or moon-white, or breaking-wave-white, or angel-white, or black-body white, I would be accused of making it up, as I just did.”

No one, however, invented these white, feathery apparitions. Nine pelicans haunt brackish Georgetown water. Albino, no. Alabaster, yes. American white pelicans from the northern Great Plains winter along the South Carolina coast.

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Narrative by Tom Poland, Photo by Robert Clark







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