by Marshall Jamison

Editor’s Note: A Boyhood Memory has been selected for inclusion in The National Library of Poetry.

He watched the grey gull he had shot
with his new air rifle
hobble away from the milk-soaked bread
he’d guiltily prepared
after his mother had quietly made him
feel rotten
because he’d broken his birthday
never to shoot at any living thing.
For days he held his reluctant captive
very carefully
as he fed it with increasing success,
on bread, milk and finally meat.

The day he released his patient,
the bird shook itself,
preened its grey feathers,
stretched its wings and flew
into the sea wind, free.

And, young as he was, he knew
the sharp pain
of rejection.