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 around
pick 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 crumb
and 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 gusty
piece 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 poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.