What the Parrot Said

What the Parrot Said

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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.

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