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Summer/Fall 2020

Ring-Billed Gulls at the Landfill by the Chesapeake

Stephen Scott Whitaker

Keeping close the worst of us, earth
crawls, itching as if all its
bandages are unstuck, wrinkled
and cankered with pus. To be free
of us, the earth calls on the wind
to lift its wits from it and give
back to the sky all that it would
have. The Ring-billed gull assists, sent
by blue air, blue sea. Killers,
ring-billed gulls, hunting up, hunting
down, rat, rabbit, snake, garbage scowl.
It can and will eat anything
rising up off earth, barrelled up
in a lofty thought, bruise shadowed
sticky, torn and anxious. Kee har,
Kee har, Kee har, echoing across
hazel fields that ripple at times
with flapping wings, ring-billed gulls
feeding and feasting. Kings, mean, greedy
and heady with medicine.
Sugared to the brain, gulls feed, feed,
remembering less each day which east
is easy, which west gives rest to earth
mounds rich with let, hot with sun, wet,
this marsh mound rising towards blue.
Towards blue it rises, rises.
Over all the earth it rises.

[Check out Stephen Scott Whitaker’s back porch interview]