Issue 14
Depth Perception

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.