Walking along the rocky shore of Santa Cruz, and the fog rolling in,
I remember seagulls gliding and swooping within its grey rolls,
their hooked beaks open and picking at the bits of debris left in the sand,
the bottle cap half hidden.
I searched for stones shiny and smooth, small enough to fit in my palm.
Later feeling the heat of the coarse sand under the sun,
the waves gentle and slow, I awoke from dozing and raising my head
saw boys, 8 or 9 or 10 years old, with stones they’d found,
tossing them in the air, then aiming
at the circling birds, the flocks of seagulls,
moving from over the water to try the left bags of chips and litter.
The boys scattered with the birds, except for one
who stood and aimed, his target met,
and the bird tumbled to the shining hot beach,
still, its eyes open and unseeing,
and the boy, too, still, with his eyes wide.
I watched them with the dwindling tide,
the bird’s head turned and webbed feet faced against the sky,
the boy pale and silent, his back and hands shy,
and the shining rock by the bird’s stunned head,
a trickle of red beginning to wind around its golden green eye,
and slowly move down its twisted neck to the sand beneath.
The boy turned just enough, raising his eyes for mine,
his face flushed with reds and pinks, and knelt by the bird,
and for a moment touched its oily feathers,
until he stood and ran across the wide strand,
his feet stumbling in the dry sand, sinking and lifting,
his face bright and streaked with tears.