Sunday, 28 July 2013

Gull Watching by Colin Will

The pitter-patter of little feet
is a gull paddling on the grass
to raise a worm from its deep tunnel
through the threat of rain.

The stare of a gull, unable to blink,
unwilling to turn the head away,
outfaces you every time. The yellow eye,
black pupil, silver eye-ring, challenges.

Red spot on the lower bill
a chick’s target to peck at,
to make the parent throw up
its last catch – fish, chip, pizza crust.

The aggressive wing-joint’s thrust forward,
and I don’t know if in human arms it would be
elbow, wrist or fist. It doesn’t work on us;
we don’t know gull’s language of gestures.

Head down, neck stretched out, the keening call
a yearling makes to beg for food
from a more successful adult,
that’s something we understand.

They’ll watch the eiders dive
then dive on them as they surface,
keen to snatch a morsel of mollusc
before it can be swallowed.

It’s no surprise Hitchcock chose you
for the attack: the strength, sharpness of beak,
all-out and in your face, breaking through glass,
confronting us, from somewhere alien.

Colin Will, Scotland

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