Bryan Walpert


A seagull will do almost anything
to avoid flight.
His eighteen-month-old son in his arms
on the beach,
an hour past low tide,
he entertains himself
with such ruminations,
then switches to description:
Two seagulls settle
on the sand, ten metres or so.
Bird, the boy says.
Hard to explain to the boy:
On being approached, the seagulls
would simply separate,
walk casually,
eyes forward
as though not aware.
Something here about
energy. Or inertia.
A wife enters the poem.
She stands at sufficient remove
that speaking over the surf
is not possible, or worthwhile.
The problem with metaphor
is the world doesn’t care
about your problems,
viz. the tide.
A seagull is willing even to run
rather than employ its wings
if it can get away
with it.
For some creatures, the whole day
is about hunger. Which is to say
a calculus. When it’s worth taking off,
and for where.
Bird. Bird.
Hard to explain to the boy.
The risks of closing in.
Sometimes to have is to watch
from a given distance.
But this was about energy, or inertia,
the wife looking the other way.
Imagine a whole day
in the service
of appeasing hunger.
Bird, says the boy between them,
the day standing nearly still
on its unflappable legs.

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