Above Us Only Sky

Seagulls are shoaling above our heads, held aloft in a clear blue sky by a strong wind blowing in from the African Atlantic.

Maybe twenty, thirty, eighty, hundreds – who knows – as they sideslip across our field of view – it’s impossible to quantify, as none are ever stable nor static enough in their magnificent ocean of sky. 

Neither do any of them expend energy on flapping their wings, which are fixed like flattened inverted Vs to their angelic white bodies, each wing forming a perfect dihedral, spilling uplift on either side to remain hovering and fluid in the continually gusting wind.

Thus stabilised, they hang in space, above the tops of waving, flexing palm trees which edge the necklace of resort swimming pools below. Trailing edges of wings and tails are infused by bright, lowering sunlight, as if each bird were powered by these glittering fringes.

Their bright shadows speed across the rippling waters, strobe-like as they slash across grass, sunbathing bodies and paved pool surrounds, grounding and measuring their speed against the fixed solidity of earth.

Some will dip unexpectedly towards the wind-rippled surface of the cold, unoccupied swimming pools – their underbellies suddenly lit by the reflections from the bright, mosaic-tiled pools below, glowing azure, which then thins and dissipates as each lowering bird uses the wind to regain height above the lapping water.

The apparent freedom of their flight is not without hazard. A simplistic web of fishing-line is stretched optimistically between the swaying palms, in itself a feat of imaginative human engineering, installed to discourage aerial access to the swimming environment. To the uninitiated and fallible human eye, this scaleless deterrent is mistakenly viewed as aircraft contrails, reflecting the slanting sunlight and seemingly appearing in the high blue stratosphere, despite its actual proximity measured in metres.

All of this effortless movement swirls, flexes, adjusts, tweaks, finesses in milliseconds above our heads, a seemingly chaotic non-pattern, yet no bird collides with another despite their constant side-slipping. Wings continually adapt and adjust each bird’s angle of attack to the incessant, varying wind-speed, their bodies static yet their eager, beaked heads constantly moving, like finger-puppets, seeking free space in their realm of sky.

Fleeting, soaring, sailing, flying, their paths intersect and intertwine, often sliding so far sideways as to disappear completely from view, out of frame, their vacated airspace immediately taken up by another’s trajectory as the shoal floats its way through another windy afternoon on the coast of Agadir.

Title with due acknowledgement to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

For the record (and possibly with some surprise and disappointment for all three avid readers), no Knumptywagen has been utilised in the creation of this whimsical piece.


  1. Admiration for your beautiful writing, as always – and sharing your laughter – as yes – maybe this is a Knumptywagon-less adventure! Have fun!


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