Poetry: Tatyana Brown
On the weekends we would set the parakeets free
inside the apartment, and wonder
at their inability to understand walls.
Within a cage so small, there was no need
to learn what wings could really do—
the miracle of hollow bones and lift—gratuitous,
a tease of potential, a hungry plague upon the mind.
No wonder they would screech, inconsolable
at sunrise. A body restrained from its calling
is its own source of madness, insult and ache without release.
Once freed, they were greedy with the air
inside our cramped and cluttered rooms.
This was the closest to feral they would ever get to be,
so they ignored formalities—like slowing down
because there was no more space to fly.
I remember the wet and sickening thud
of feathered skull against plaster, then glass, then wood.
Each collision another spike of panic in our blood:
It always sounded like the impact might kill them.
You always wondered if that was what they wanted—
an honest ending, a conclusion when they were most themselves.
You open your mouth and unload
a flock of tiny frightened cranes on me
in the middle of high tea, can’t control
the pour of them from your throat.
They’re swimming in spilled saucers, staining
their unruly feathers with each wing flap
and head toss. They are nesting in my hat,
chalking up the tablecloth with their shit.
The room is a river of flight, and still more
tumble into the air from your wagging tongue.
Their weather pattern is twisting the chandelier
out of the ceiling, all groans and wept dust.
My wallpaper is being shredded. It floats to the floor.
The ladies in attendance glare at me from under the table
where they huddle to avoid the pecking and brace
for the crash. I really can’t bring you anywhere.
The only comfort I take in watching you break
china in a fountain-birth of a thousand birds
is the way it drowns out even the possibility
of hearing you speak. How they trample your voice.