We wonder what they say
as we walk hand in hand along the beach.
They are assembled on the sand
30, 40, maybe more.
White and grey
feathers tattered and worn
decorated with that small orange circle
on their yellow bill.
It’s their weekly board meeting,
Saturday morning congregation
on the sand.
Sharing traumas of the week
like the narcotics anonymous circle of 17 chanting
the serenity prayer
a few lifeguard stations north.
They could be planning a party,
a surprise for Joe,
who will be turning 21 next weekend.
Deciding who will bring the main course,
the side dishes and the dessert.
“Don’t forget to invite his Aunt Bea, the one that lives in Marina Del Rey”
Jean prods Tom.
They could be discussing
how many fish they each caught that week;
Or the garbage they saw floating in their ocean.
Or their disappointment at the low turnout of visitors to the beach
who brought bread or birdseed to share.
Or the amount of trash they left behind.
They could be confessing
the number of heads they dropped on
cawing an apology
of their lack of control.
Maybe it’s a support group.
They come weekly.
Today George is making amends for the fight he started with Jim;
George didn’t share the fish guts tossed overboard
from the rusty blue and white Luhrs fishing boat,
instead he swooped in
pecked at Jim and snatched his prize from the fisherman.
They’re working toward acceptance
of themselves and each other.
Appreciation for tattered feathers, orange dots and
uncontrollable droppings on cars and benches and heads.
My husband and I watch
as the meeting on the sand ends.
We listen to them chant the serenity prayer
like the 17 people three lifeguard stations to the North.
“It works if you work it” they squawk,
take flight and catch the wind.