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Ian Wakeling

Hunting Gull


Held in midstream, kneading the estuary air,
Rode the proud animation of this hunting gull.
Watching from the shore was to see embodied ambition
Flying low over incoming tide and crystalline waves,
Where the world is snared by an hypnotic fishing eye
And mortality measured in long, silent wing beats.

The art of the hunt is simple and mesmerising.
Hard into the off-shore wind the search begins.
Motionless vision scans from side to side
Determining the moves of a bird
Pinpointed in the tension of nerves -
A stiletto beak, a black capped head.

The fever is instinct,
Seeking that one sign.
A flash of silver.
A fleeting form
That fires the hunter.
A fish in the water.

An angled wing white dive
Scythes into surface wave slats.
A blaze of blood in the river brine
Signals the triumph of an icy killing,
Of scaled flesh caught by razored bone
As feathered predator consumes aqueous prey.

In the end of death life begins,
Or so the lucky hunter's spirit sings,
Hanging thickly in the winter air,
Sounding the rhythmic call of nature's despair
That rings out wild across sea and sky,
A cold, cold impulse no creature can defy.