We add Tyvek wings — of course he must fly.
We intend him to be tear-resistant,
water-proof. We check his spine and cross spar,
the bridle with its anchor points. Secure
enough, light and strong for support in winds
that could swivel or shatter him. We paste
on a beak and feathers with spray and salt,
aware he’ll ache and squawk. We darken tips
for extra protection from split and scratch.
We fill his beak with wit and wisdom, sure
he’ll swallow the sharp and relish the sweet.
We etch on as broad a smile as we can.
No doubt he’ll hawk insects on the wing, plunge –
dive, pitch and yaw, keel and tangle himself
in branches. He might unwind to the end
of his spool or even loosen his reel.
We glue it fast. We sense his thirst, the throb
of his wings, their fearless ripple and roll.
We stroke on a warm mantle, stout webbed feet,
lucid eyes, confident but unaware
how carefully he’ll need to choose his sky.
And yes, we know he’ll lift up this cherished
creation and paint the heavens. We loop,
fashion, fasten and cry, then let him go.
Helen Freeman started writing poems whilst bed-ridden, recovering from a car crash in Oman in 2009. Since then she has completed several online courses and recently started sending work to online magazines. Brought up in Kenya, she now lives in Edinburgh and Riyadh.
“I drafted ‘Making a Seagull Kite’ in response to a prompt for a recognised rite of passage poem. Our tutor, Kate Potts, encouraged and provoked us in her online course Word Power: Poetry and Ritual, where we read and wrote incantations, litanies, laments and everyday rituals. In this poem, I had in mind my son leaving home for university to study Marine Biology. I greatly appreciated Kate’s feedback, as well as that of the other participants along with their wonderful takes on each assignment.”