What the Parrot Said

What the Parrot Said


My friend tells me his uncle the sailor died
and left him a parrot that nobody else would take
because the bird was so profane, and not long after,
my friend threw a party at his house, and the parrot
was in a cage in the kitchen, and I must have walked
by him a dozen times to get a beer, fetch ice, use
the rest room, and the parrot was silent the whole time,
and finally almost everyone had gone home,
so I went back in to get a broom and help clean up,
and I stopped in the kitchen and looked
at the parrot for a good long minute, and finally
he took a couple of those little childlike steps
parrots take when they’re sidling down that bar
they all perch on, and when he got close
to the bars of the cage, he tilted his head and leaned
toward me and said, “Fuck a duck.” I wonder
what he meant by that. Okay, he was a bird,
and a duck is another, but why would a duck
appear attractive to a parrot? Another way
to look at it is, why would a parrot think a duck
would appeal to me? That’s beyond my understanding
of interspecies romance. Experts say parrots
don’t really talk the way we do, that they simply
mimic their owners so they’ll be accepted.
But if that’s so, why wasn’t this parrot more chatty?
No, I think he was just in love with the beauty
of the language: the clipped Anglo-Saxon
monosyllables, the plosive k-sounds of both
the f- and the d-word, the rhyme. Good bird.

Thank you for reading The Nation

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read, just one of the many incisive, deeply-reported articles we publish daily. Now more than ever, we need fearless journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media.

Throughout this critical election year and a time of media austerity and renewed campus activism and rising labor organizing, independent journalism that gets to the heart of the matter is more critical than ever before. Donate right now and help us hold the powerful accountable, shine a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug, and build a more just and equitable future.

For nearly 160 years, The Nation has stood for truth, justice, and moral clarity. As a reader-supported publication, we are not beholden to the whims of advertisers or a corporate owner. But it does take financial resources to report on stories that may take weeks or months to properly investigate, thoroughly edit and fact-check articles, and get our stories into the hands of readers.

Donate today and stand with us for a better future. Thank you for being a supporter of independent journalism.

Ad Policy