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
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.