Titus, her father, had made a voyage to the Indies, and brought back with him a green parrowkeet, the first of its kind to be seen in Dorset.
– Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes
The children throw things at you.
You have nowhere to go.
You’re like something to be melted down
And stuck with a wick while talking.
When it’s gloomy outside they sit in front of you
As if you were a fire.
It’s gloomy inside, too.
You don’t mean to be entertaining,
Gesticulating with one nervous but adamant claw,
Waving the alternate cut wing for emphasis
Articulate as the sleeve of a revivalist’s robe
(That is, inarticulate)
As she measures a storefront she once owned or plans to own,
For they have taught you to say
Of course there is no reason for birds to talk
Or to be as colorful as lollipops.
Perhaps like women they “know they are dynamite,
And long for the concussion
That may justify them.”
Collages: Linda Norton, from WPA/FSA photos in the public domain (Library of Congress)