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in plain air 165
the ross's gull
Whenever the Arctic winter nears
and the white sun just clears
the earth's rim and the tundra colors go
under the new snow
and the terns and plovers make their fl ight
away from a solid night
and ptarmigan, fox, owl, hare
turning white, disappear
on the white space under the black sky
and the gulls, too, fl y
by coast and open waters down
to where there's green and brown,
the Slaty-backed, the Glaucous, the pale
gray Iceland gull --
then the little Ross's gull makes a strange
migration from his summer range
in north Siberia -- heading northeast;
most lovely and known least
of gulls; his plumage a delicate rose....
Northeast then north he goes
beyond Point Hope, and Icy Cape, and past
Point Barrow till at last
he disappears, with his graceful, wavering fl ight
into the polar night
and his cry a-wo a-wo a-wo
drifting back slow.
There he will fl y and sleep and eat
for some nine months in the complete
darkness -- God's own darkness, surely --
over the Arctic sea,
feeding among the open water cracks
Note: "graceful, wavering fl ight," and most of the information, are borrowed from

Arthur Cleveland Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds, Gulls, and Terns.