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I married a parrot with green eyes
then tried to return to my old life
like a moth caught in the air ducts.
Years of nights, rubbing
his gold-tip wings against my body . . .

Flesh against feather,
I released him into dark sky
and longed for him only once.
Turning television channels,
catching a dancer’s legs opening
over her partner’s shadowed mouth,
I wanted to paint her and to be her,
to know the curves and hollows of her
hidden face.

So what

if we never slept in the same bed?
Some say a life lived without romance
is an insult to human nature,
but I say the way I lived: paranoid,
celibate, terrified, and alone,
was a credit to the solitary painter
I felt myself becoming.

Almost a decade, I loved my parrot,
and in my traveling years,
when I carried him
in a velvet-covered, silver cage,
my father said to me,
Janice, you have an absolute ear
for piano music
that hovers off a single key.

You are acutely aware of who you are,
more drawn to mirrors than blue
and yellow birds twitching in their cages.
You are empathetic
to birds who look into mirrors
even though you despise me
and call whole cities your home.

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The oldest of four children, Aimee Parkison was born in Durant, Oklahoma. She currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Parkison has received a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize. When she’s not reading, writing, playing surrealist word games, daydreaming, journaling, or teaching, she’s usually hanging out at local coffee shops with her husband Abelardo, playing video games, spending time with her seven cats, or enjoying a glass of red wine.

Parkison writes fiction and poetry. She has an MFA from Cornell University and is an Associate Professor of English at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she teaches creative writing. Just after she finished graduate school, her first story collection, Woman with Dark Horses, won the first annual Starcherone Fiction Prize. BOA Edition’s American Reader Series published her recent story collection, The Innocent Party, in 2012. Parkison’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in numerous magazines, including Feminist Studies, Mississippi Review, North American Review, Cimarron Review, Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, Other Voices, Lake Effect, Tarpaulin Sky, PMS, 5AM, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, So to Speak, Nimrod, The Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Fiction International, Seattle Review, Rattle, and Denver Quarterly.

2 responses to “Birds Who Look Into Mirrors”

  1. Wonderful work, Aimee. Glad to have you in the TNB fold.

  2. Chris Davis says:

    Gorge0us poem, strange and mysterious, totally clear…wonderful imagery and voice!

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