I shot a seagull not with a bullet but with a click of the lens.Eye to viewfinder I slowly invaded their space,
twenty gulls seriatim on a bayside rail.
The nearest ones started twitching their wings, twitched, twitched again
then spread their feathered sails and erupted into flight
to circle over the harbor waters.
Six feet between anyone of them and me
seemed the boundary between peaceful perch and panicky flight.
But not the last holdout. Lone tough bird on that rail.
Goliath versus gull, but sans slingshot.
Rather a refusal to even twitch or loosen a talon from the rail.
Five feet, four, three, finally at two a twitch,
and only at one did it launch itself stately over the bay.
But cawing loudly it dared circle me.
And then the dive, I twitched then ducked.
I shook my fist and cawed back.
Only then did that David gull weigh discretion against valor's better part.
Only then did it flee Goliath to rejoin its cautious flock.
Bold but foolish defiance, for if I had been a hungry hawk or ravenous cat,
it would have been naturally deselected
and from then on forever vacant from this bayside rail.
Which is why avian boldness is rare. Which is why any boldness is rare.
For most boldness is a mere moment's forgetting of fear.
Darwin might be smiling at his own wisdom, but I'm not.
As a nature photographer I'm unfit.
All my photos of that seagull's singular sassiness are out of focus.
Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been published in many web and print journals such as Cordite, Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic, Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak, Morpo Review, Ken*Again Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review, Constellations, and many, many others.