In a vision, he’d once seen another seagull in a top hat dancing at the Trocadero. It was the most elegant thing ever. He became entranced by imagery and longed to give expression to his own special voice. There was no doubt, he was a poet at heart.
That’s what his girlfriend, Sandy Barr, told him. Never mind, he knew the truth anyway. He was always functioning with his head in the stratosphere. There was something about it that felt so right. He knew it was his true calling.
He was a vagabond, a troubadour, a traveling jester, riding the winds and sometimes performing for his meals. But he had higher aspirations. He wanted to put his experiences in words. His world was something that needed and cried out for sharing.
He’d breathed in autumn’s tangy smell from wood-burning stoves; felt the sharpness in the air as winter’s cold grip crept in. He’d seen the brightness bloom as spring’s healing bonnet led to summer’s torpor and absorbed the splintery hues of water in all its seasons.
He knew writing poetry was no path to riches. That was okay with him. Few seagulls achieved worldly success. Jonathan Livingston had been a rare exception. For a while, Johnnie-L had been able to enjoy a high life based on royalties. Then the fortune ran out and existence depended on scraps the same as for everyone else.
Still, he was bothered by some misconceptions about his brethren. The bad thing humans said about seagulls, that they were all scavengers, was a licorice-hearted lie. Humans thought they were so smart. What did they know? Did they think all his swooping and swirling in flight was just for fun? No, it was sky-writing in 3-D.
The aerial scripture was satisfying in its own way, but now he wanted to find a larger audience. How to reach out to people? Damnable kids with their opposable thumbs, text messaging each other willy-nilly. It was like trying to decipher the Da Vinci code, figuring out what they were saying. Give him old-fashioned language, something he could get his beak around.
There was little encouragement for artistic expression in his crepuscular world. Cawing crows and their cousin ravens were vicious critics. What gave them the right? The last time one of them squawked something interesting was “Nevermore” at Edgar Allan Poe’s garden party.
If he was going to take writing seriously, maybe he should start composing movie reviews. That’s where some of the best phrases and thematic stitchings were to be found. He knew the subject matter. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t circled around and dropped in on enough drive-in theatres in his day.
There were words he had always wanted to use. He knew from experience the beading and sparkling sea could be variously vermilion, cerulean and umbrous. The amniotic air was often languorous or limpid. His middle name was loquacious.
Ah poetry, the muted music of the soul – unless one went on a speaking tour. What wouldn’t he give to project his words before a receptive audience in a plummy English actor’s voice?
But all these plans and speculations were tiring him out. He’d stand one-legged on this rock for a while and let the day’s last embrace slip away. In the twilight, he’d go for a final swim.
If the setting sun angled just right, he’d ride along on a seeming sea of butter. A few popcorn clouds would float above, ready for dipping. He’d wait for the first stars to sprinkle down from heaven’s salt shaker, before heading inland to some farmer’s field.
Wheat-quilted dreams would then bring new imaginings. It was a mighty fine life.
Spartacus the Kite is another lyrical nature story in which a free-thinker takes flight.