A wedge of blue, like
a powder-puff fairytale shoe,
he lands on my feeder,
edging in among the dun colored
sparrows. “What kind of bird
is that?” my husband asks,
and I turn, prepared to be
delighted. Perhaps an oriole, a bluebird,
even a painted bunting,
something rare in Iowa.
But I am not prepared for this –
such comeliness, such fragility, something
that belongs inside the house, or deep in some
Australian woods, from which
he might have been plucked by poachers.
This parakeet nips at seeds
while the dull finches wait their turn,
as if they know something is wrong,
those daily birds I’ve been feeding freely,
because fall is setting in and I want them
fat for winter. How will he fare?
We try to coax him onto a finger, but
there’s nothing doing; he dives into
the crabapple tree, peering
until we go back in. Now I look for him
daily, sick at heart when I don’t see him,
sick at heart when I do. That strange pastel,
soaring around our ordinary neighborhood,
his wings beating ecstatically, free
for the rest of his life.
Published in Popshot Quarterly: An Illustrated Magazine of New Writing, Winter 2019