Gull Play

When west wind blows
and tides roll up the Ribble
at docks’ end you find
a fantastic sight.

Where flotsam washes in;
logs, bottles, footballs,
(they don’t care),
gulls float on air-currents.

Delighted squeaks and chirps
suggest they’re playing,
although they’ve made
an art of it:

it takes practice
and precision at velocity
to achieve a position
of perfect stillness,

hold, then…
swoop-fall, buoyant-up
with hearty calls like children
who’ve been tagged.

Some say they’re souls of sailors.
Some say they’re here
for sailors’ souls.
It’s always November

when they stop to call.
Once every gull’s on board,
they swoop-fall, rise up,
a bouyant flock

on white-winged sails
headed where west-wind ends
and Ribble’s tides
cease to roll.

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4 thoughts on “Gull Play

  1. “souls of sailors” or “here for sailors’ souls” nicely captures this both enigmatic and opportunistic bird!

    Was that first photo taken from a boat?

  2. Yes, loved the folkloric bit about “souls of sailors,” etc. We have the St. Lawrence River gulls here in Montreal and they love our french fries….

    1. I nearly put in some lines about how quickly they can snap out of their playtime when chips or crisps get thrown down and they become pecking, mewling, elbow-winging ravenous stomachs… but decided they didn’t fit and to save the chip poem for another day!

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