Husband Returns As Parrot

After my Johnny died, little sounds
drove me crazy—coffee cup clink,
scrape of my chair, the fridge—all
wrong noises in a dead quiet house.
I went to the pound to get a dog or cat.
Too depressing. On to the pet store.
They had an African Grey parrot—
best talkers—old enough to go home
in a week. He jumped up and down
when he saw me, climbed on my hand,
bobbed his head, and said, bye, bye.
And his bright red tail!
It’s been a year now. I named him Johnny,
my favorite name. From the radio
and our games he’s picked up lots of words,
but he said the weirdest thing last Friday,
lipstick   on a date?   mine.
My Johnny was a jealous guy, too.
Two days ago Johnny bit me,
pulled out his feathers and screamed
when I tried to put him in his cage to sleep,
so I rigged up a perch on the other side
of the bed, and he settled right down.
Today, I’m not kidding, I swear to God
I heard him say, kitchen table  
kitchen table    remember?   wow. 

Marie-Elizabeth Mali received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is a co-curator for louderARTS: the Reading Series in New York City. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Calyx, MiPOesias, Pebble Lake Review, Tiferet, and Rattle, among others. Please visit her website

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