Unpicking a Bird

1 August 2017

To follow the wing of a herring gull
is a meditation on balance

an invisible string links lead weight to scale
feather to foot to my eye

the gull hops on one leg leans to the right
extends a wing but doesn’t fly

beak humbled on breast on clawed toe
on sand and rock on my left forefinger

fishing hooks catch on everything

Wind and waves bring onto the fringing reef
every tangled and tethered

strangled thing dead-eyed belly up
the beach is a white-washed tomb

beautiful on the outside on the inside
full of bones of the dead and the hobbled

bird throat narrowed by nylon a fisherman’s
careless catch

falls limp on the grass like an old toy
fashioned from a white feather boa

and I am the puppeteer unpack every wire
every string trying to make him dance.

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