Don't Give Up
I walk on the beach with my sister, turn and stop to face the turquoise waves burst into white foam bubbles that get small and cover my bare feet as they reach the shore. As the wave recedes the hard ground beneath me softens and my feet mold in the spongy texture beneath me. Then I hear a yelp.
I look to my right. My sister and I see two off leash small dogs. One of the dogs attacks a seagull and seems to be pulling at its wing. A man and a woman yell and pull their dogs off the bird, re-leash their pets and leave the beach. The woman turns back to look at the gull, then her head shrinks into her shoulders and she slouches away as fast as she can.
We watch the bird and worry about his plight. Will he be okay? He sits on the shore looking stunned and I notice 11 other gulls, at a respectful distance, staring at him and not moving. They seem to be waiting. The gull makes a tentative step, then walks in a circle, but one wing is much lower and spread out and down. Is his shoulder broken?
The gull walks into the ocean and swims around slowly. His mates all turn and watch him. A lifeguard truck comes by and I go up to talk to the driver. Seeing me coming, he dons his facemask and rolls down the window.
A dog attacked a seagull.
We have an animal control unit but they don’t work during the pandemic.
Why are the other birds staring?
They stay in a flock. They hunt together by day, and nest together at night.
So they are watching over him?
My sister and I begin cheering on the injured bird. He swims around then tries to fly and fails once or twice, as his wings do not synchronize. He stops. The birds stare. We stare. I hope he is resting, rather than giving up.
Then he comes ashore, all bird eyes on him, gets a running start and takes to the sky. He flies above and behind us. His wings are working. My sister and I yell, “Whoo Hoo.” As we turn toward the hills to follow the circling bird I see a woman in an orange sweatshirt yell, “Hurray, you go gull!”
I feel so happy and relieved. I exhale, turn back to my sister and smile. She stands tall with lifted chin and solemnly quotes Langston Hughes to me:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow