“The Parrot at Emerald Thrift” by Dixie Salazar

Dixie Salazar


In the midst of stringless violins
and broken princess phones,
a garbled vowel punctuates
the swamp-cooled aisles of Emerald Thrift.
It’s the only freedom left
to him: anomalous, guttural repetitions
of a wizened child performing for pistachios—
but the child tugging her mother’s skirt
does not mistake its cry for one of her own,
just watches, eyes wide and wild—
as the bright feathers open
and ask her name

in a voice clearly out of place
he mocks her mother’s cell phone voice—
“Brrrrrack! Lincoln’s Birthday Sale!”
Shackled to peeling French Provencial,
he bows to a mock sun, ambassador of lost,
green rivers and pink half-off tags,
indentured to bald mannequins and old men
shuffling by in carpet slippers
keeping time to false teeth that clack
down the pocket hole of memory,
a call for parrots and baby dolls
whose stolen voices cry for no one—

not even themselves or the tarnished fingers
of Asian children threading wings
of gnats to stitch the ears of hibernating
teddy bears. Who split the lark to find
the music? Who marked down the tone deaf
mermaid, rolled back the price of syllables?
Didn’t anyone tell you there’s now a market
for dull speeches and used excuses?
That the voices of your children’s children
are caged and ready for shipping
in the new global order? Would those nontaxable
tongues and red plastic lips lie?

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005

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