He lives at sea,
feeding on squid and small fish,
and, in late centuries, refuse from the ships.
Goes ashore only for the bill-duelling,
posturing, groaning ritual of mating.
Has webbed feet, a hooked beak,
and wings twice the span of a man’s arms.
Is no great pilot.
See him lift off without a headwind,
ignobly flailing and lunging.
See him misjudge his touchdown
and stall in, pitiably flapping and squawking.
See him, then, aloft,
exquisitely lifting and tilting on the currents,
and wish him endowed with self-consciousness.
Oliver Rice | Mudlark No. 41 (2010)
Contents | Strains of Existential Despair