Gestalt with Seagulls

By | 1 June 2013

Late at night, in the rain
I drove to the end of the quay,
past the frosted lights of the refinery,
its single outlet flame
streaming in the wind like a pennant.
Between the hulking dark of the shipbuilders
and a car-park jungle of dillweed
was a wide curved verge, seamless with the road.
It was there that I found them:
the seagulls – the secret
of where they go at night.
Like snowfall on the road,
a tight-hooked rug of white fleece nubs:
no road, no verge, only birds.

I drove at them. The carpet rose, as if shaken out
by a mighty hand, peeled up and off the ground
and dispersed, shredded, in the rain,
in the instant of discovery
already swept away,
just as the impulse that had woken me,
angry, from a dream of my mother, and sent me
to the car, to drive the docks at night
was already gone.

I parked at the edge of the quay,
at the crest of a bluestone wall
holding back the leaping bay.
The light of the city lay in sheets
on the face of the rain. And then,
above the rude
maracas of water on the roof
came the delicate thud and shuffle
of countless seagulls settling on the car.

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