her seagulls

if i’m heading to my room late
or grabbing food or a beer
i always say hello to a tall woman
who stands by the corner on and off
from midnight until dawn most nights
outside of a burger shop
and she always says hi back to me
or we just smile and wave

she usually wears the same maroon dress
short with a plunging gold neckline
and red boots with stiletto toes and heels
with her thick long blonde hair dropped
over one shoulder in front
and there are always seagulls around her

last night i bought a vegan burger
on my way home from a bar
and sat inside the shop
though not purposely but in view of her spot
and she didn’t mind me there and gave me a nod
as she chatted to passing men
and then leaned in the window of a black car
to talk to the driver before he pulled away

a guy in the shop near me
finished his burger and left
and she came inside immediately as he did
and checked his scraps and what was left
took outside to the squawking flapping seagulls
that had followed her to the door
and fed them chips and bun remains

and then came back inside again and took scraps
from another spot where a woman had been eating
and i commented on her feeding seagull activity
and she said in her deep voice “i do it between customers
because i love the seagulls and they love me”

she then went back outside as a silver car stopped
and fed her seagulls
got in the car and it drove away
while the seagulls and i watched her disappear
all of us knowing our friend would soon be back
standing on her corner

 

Stephen House is an award-winning Australian playwright, poet, and actor. He’s won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild), Adelaide Fringe Award, Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, Goolwa Poetry Cup, Feast Short Story Prize, and more. He’s been shortlisted for Lane Cove Literary Award, Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, Greenroom best actor Award, and more. He’s received Australia Council literature residencies to Ireland and Canada and an India Asialink. His chapbook real and unreal was published by ICOE Press Australia. He is published often and performs his work widely.