After sundown quiet gulls fly
in from the ocean, over
houses facing the channel,
coming up like pigeons
in a shooting gallery.
No swivel-neck peering
for bits of refuse, or
jealous cries among them—
it’s too late for that.
A songbird grace as they pass
singly or in a tattered procession,
guided by afterlight on hilltops.
They’ll alight somewhere on the flats,
to feed at dawn in vegetable fields,
though I won’t be up to watch them—
just as well, for it might
spoil the mysterious portent
of this oneway travel at dusk:
gulls in the guise of doves,
reverent in holy flight, more
than they could hope to be.
I stand in shadow looking up,
wishing for more of them, urgently
flying in the dim, seeable night.
The last ones seem to know
they’re just ahead of the dark.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 4 Number 6, on page 36
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