Share Poetry Finalist : Terrain.org 5th Annual Contest https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2014/nov/Silano_MonPere.mp3 Mon Père, Mon Frère Tit-high in the green, mid-morning sea, he is salt and pepper locks, spring-stepped, possibly eighty. With chartreuse scepter, lives for the beep, news from the depths that could make him rich—army of vintage toy soldiers, cache of Liberty dimes, Lincoln’s ashen smile. In his spandex Body Glove, he is after more than he will ever find, his glittery sickle’s next find whatever the ocean decides— doohickey, gewgaw, gimcrack, John Junior’s girlfriend’s tweezers for the brows she could never true up. It is Twelfth Night, and he is plumbing for pea and bean, for queen and king, for the prize at the bottom of the box. In this sea he will find more sea; beneath this sand more sand; sky will always equal sky. Ensconced in his ear-cocked task, his mind a great porpoise surfacing close, close and out of reach. Our task? To scrutinize his scrutinizing, his deftness at digging up answers to questions he hasn’t yet asked, maps laid out by sand crabs, ruddy turnstones; he is all Jack Russell on the trail of a raccoon’s scent, the cat that’s whiffed the fish-head life. With his dutiful dirk, his finding contraption, his getting gizmo, his gadget sniffer-outer, with his long-legged-fly intent, with his hands and feet doing what they are bid, he’s our prototype, our exemplary collection of complex proteins, the uncracked nut of land versus sea, our love of the sun, our lunatic devotion to the moon. Mon père, mon frère, Abraham and Abel and Ahab. Palm fronds sway in the language of lush, and like the singer of the sea, he is master and maker. Oh, frangente, the breaking and the groundswell, the oceanic walk we take, the sloughing off of common sense, the abandonment of reason. https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2014/nov/Silano_Distribution.mp3 Distribution and Migration of North American Gulls At the Jersey shore, each and every a gull, plain and simply not chortling, never guffawing. I’m not quite sure how we didn’t notice each one unique—pink versus yellow-footed, long or diminutive necked, but loved them for their raucousness, their moxie, knack for snapping French fries from let-fly fists, gulping KFC, oblivious, it seemed, to their cannibalistic thronging. When I arrived in the belly of Iowa, landlocked like never before, focused a scope on the smudge of black on a yellow beak, I was hooked: why hadn’t anyone shared? Ross’s, Glaucous, Slaty-backed. The ones back home, I learned, were Laughing. All that autumn deep in discernment—wing tips, darker mantle versus pale, degree of streaking on a head. Soon I was joining early morning birders at a dock, shouting Bonapartes! Thayers! Franklins! Taking note of a Herring’s apical spots. Till one day, at a park called Discovery, walking the shoreline, happened on a raft I’d only seen in books–bold upper wing patch, long pointed wings, notched tail, short black bill with narrow tip: Sabine’s? No one to ask, no phone from which to text, from which to access allaboutbirds.org. Gull that breeds in Nunavat. Juveniles experts can’t place. No ‘year round’ to speak of, near-constant journey from tundra to tropics, back. Like dozens of attentive school children in straight- back chairs, they bobbed in the surf, circling to stir up prey. On the opposite side of a country, with no one and nothing I knew. No glib comebacks. No guidebook. Nothing to teach. Martha Silano’s most recent books are Reckless Lovely and, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. She is the poetry editor at Crab Creek Review and teaches at Bellevue College. Read poetry by Martha Silano also appearing in Terrain.org Issue 31. Photo credit: mac_ivan via photopin cc.