Sudden cold wind
blows all the trash cans over
in one mean gust.
Garbage flies all down the street.
All wrong, I think,
as the gulls descend on the presentation
of fluttering gifts spread out conveniently.
They mob in a screaming chaos of glee,
pink and orange bare feet
sliding and dancing on the ice.
Frequent pounding hail squalls
cause the whole flock to lift wings,
gracefully rising to meet the next one,
not seeking shelter
like I do.
Sailing in place, watching
for the next opportunity,
they swoop side to side
on silent stiff wings
cutting the cold air
and the weak winter light
that was the best the day offered.
Hailstones pound their little heads
until they settle, facing the wind,
feathers and attitudes unruffled.
The biggest marbles
are gobbled up casually
with perfect acceptance
of the circumstances.
Everything seems a gift
to scavenger gulls.
A woman stands on the dock,
alone, but gathering a blizzard of gulls.
I can see it from across the harbor.
They know her, and her bag of presents.
Same time every day.
Laura Kaltenstein is a Sitka artist. Her mediums are acrylics, beads, and quilting; she also teaches art to young children, sometimes writes poetry, and has been leading nature tours in Southeast Alaska for more than 20 years.