Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Gulls in Wind
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
Betsy Sholl, a resident of Portland, is the former Maine poet laureate. You might guess that the gulls of her poem come from the outskirts of her city, but you’d be wrong. Betsy explains that she spotted these “bad boys” near her in-laws’ condo in Florida, where she “decided to sit on the beach for a little while and watch.”
Gulls in Wind by Betsy Sholl
Bedraggled feathers like bonnets that would fly off if they weren’t strapped, kazoo-voiced, a chorus of crying dolphins or rusty sirens a speck of dust could set off— these raucous gleaners milling aroundpick up and discard, now a Q-tip, now a shred of lettuce or cellophane, a cigarette butt one holds a second as if he really might smoke. One drags an old condom, one spots a good crumband walk-runs, squawks everyone else away. But it’s just a dried scrap of weed he’ll toss back, grist for the next fool’s expectation. Still, a loud alpha catches wind, scoots over to check it out. Shove off,he screeches, this is my no-good, barren, motel-infested spit of sand—on which he neither toils nor spins, but grubs all day on webbed feet and clever back-hinged knees, now skittishly sidestepping a gustypiece of plastic blown against his legs, hopping to get it off, now shaking it once or twice to make sure it’s worthless before he turns his face to the wind, letting it smooth his fine fractious feathers.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 by Betsy Sholl. Reprinted from The Maine Times, 2003, by permission of Betsy Sholl. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-228-8263.