Once upon a time a woman who hated birds married a woman
who owned a parrot that would live forever.
The marriage was clearly a mistake and everyone objected
at the appointed time before the vows, including the parrot
who turned out to know terms like “hostile environment” and “irreconcilable differences”
from watching afternoon television.
Summer was fine but sure as a bird after summer, things went south.
Having heard of the Bluebirds of Happiness,
her wife stitched a Bluebird of Belligerence and it hung on the kitchen wall
right over the breakfast table until the parrot ate it
and got very sick but, of course, survived.
It’s dangerous, mistaking your lover for a bird.
There are plenty of songs about it, songs Mama used to sing you
so by now you ought to know. Once upon a time
lived a woman who made the mistake of walking out into the forest
with skin as white as swan-feather. When you met the woman
who would be your wife, the birches out there were white
against the black earth and black
against the white sky and she sang you a song. You coaxed her into your home
open-mouthed, with little motionings and birdseed and a love
like red berry jam. The way you wanted her would have destroyed anything with feathers.
When she survived it, you were first relieved and then suspicious.
You said: You can eat out of my hand, or starve.
It would have worked on a sparrow, but your
beautiful human wife just left on her long legs, still singing.
Emma Cairns Watson has been a writer since the age of nine and a university administrator since January. A recent graduate of Smith College, where she studied neuroscience and English literature, she now coordinates Egyptology lectures by day and inhales other people’s poetry by night. Her work is forthcoming in Okay Donkey, Half Mystic, and Menacing Hedge, but this here is her very first publication!