Gulls in February

Sky blue. Sun dazzle.
A day borrowed from summer.
Walking the prom.

A gull, head back, throats up a cry.
Bread!

The sky is smashed with wings,
dense with squabble, bicker and brawl.
Bad arse bandits with quick tempers and flaming wings – they’ll snatch a crust from your hand before it reaches your mouth.

A young gull, with dark anxious eyes, watches from the prom rail;
sees how it is.
This is food.
This is combat.
This is business.

Joy is for other times.
Even then, it’s not a soft, smiling happiness.
It is joy of a higher order,
severe and complicated,
known when wings judder with the effort to hold a line in a hefty wind,
or stretch, ocean wide, to feel out a curve.

And this for nothing
other than the delight of doing so.

Their yellow eyes meet mine with blank hostility,
disdaining me
Asking when I last took only what I need to live;
When I last worshipped life with every straining cell in my body.

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