Castlegate Gull

Sheena Blackhall

A large white Castlegate gull
has perched on a pillar box,
right above the slot where the letters go.
Saturday morning, urgent mail to post,
and it's sitting there like Napoleon's hat,
its back hunched up,
its beak, a Cossack's sabre.

It could be a sunflower growing out of a pot.
It could be a white nude painted by Matisse.
It's neither. It's a Castlegate gull
perched on a pillar-box.
Exchanging glares we test each other's mettle:
no surrender, it's a belligerent gull
with military epaulettes,
its beak is in fine fettle.
I finally summon the courage to post the letter.
It shifts from flipper to flipper.
Do post boxes have prows?
Is it a mascot? Maybe it's the skipper,
maybe each night they creep to the docks together.
Magnificent Castlegate gull and pillar box
sailing off to where the green whales sing,
sailing off to the Vernal Equinox.