Children Feeding Seagulls

Most toss pieces of stale bread
into the air.
They scream and hop nervously,
looking back at their parents.
The black-hooded laughing gulls
flap in place, a stationary flock
keeping even with the wind. 

One boy stretches his pale, skinny torso
to its limits,
standing on tiptoe,
his right arm flung up toward the sky,
as though he is reaching
for the saltine cracker
whose corner he holds
between his thumb and index finger. 

This is how he has been taught to stand,
offering the food at bird's-eye level,
fearless and unflinching.
But he isn't—fearless—
and when a gull dives at his hand,
snatching greedily
with its hard orange beak,
his arm jerks. 

The cracker drops to the sand,
the gull swoops to retrieve it,
the boy's arm swings down
in a posture of defeat.
The gulls, flapping in place,
hover like lost angels.
Their flat white bodies block the sun.




Leda 4
by Gary Simmons