Poem introduction

A few years ago, I visited a parrot sanctuary in Australia at dusk. They had a whole avenue lined with cages containing parrots, many of which had been rescued because their owners had died or didn't want them any more. What followed was a very eerie experience which inspired this poem.

At the parrot sanctuary

At the parrot sanctuary

Our presence disturbs their sleep:
heads bob and weave,
beaks biting the wire.

Some have plucked the feathers
from their tails,
their breasts,
as if trying to find out love

Bright eyes stare out
from circles of wizened skin
to fix us,

and then the dead begin to speak:

a chorus of greetings and goodbyes
nicknames, profanities,
the ghost of a woman's laugh.

No one can live long
with this ventriloquy,
voices thrown from the dark.

Not us,
who leave them quickly to their cages
to the silence that only comes
when we are gone.


'At the Parrot Sanctuary' from The Silence Living in Houses (Bloodaxe, 2005), © Esther Morgan 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Esther Morgan

Esther Morgan Downloads

1The Reason

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2Neighbours

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3Condemned

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4Out of Season

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5Images on Glass

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6Avocados

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7Industrial Light and Magic

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8Hints for Outback Motoring

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9Solo

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10The Cows

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11Relics

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12The House of

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13Endurance

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14Self Possession

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15Bone China

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16The Ghost of This House

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17Care-taking

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18Fast

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19House Rules

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20Her Given Names

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21Imperative

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22Balancing Act

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23The Ring Hand

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24Why Don't You Just Leave?

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25Safe House

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26Are You Homesick for the House of Cards?

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27Growing a Girl

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28British Winter Time

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29At the parrot sanctuary

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30Grace

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31Waiting Places

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32The Long Holidays

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33Spare Room in Summer

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34The Messengers

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35Among Women

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36Epiphany

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37What Happens While We are Sleeping

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38Summer Storm

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39Garbo Among Us

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40Hide Nor Hair

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41Five Easy Pieces

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42The China Mender's Daughter

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43Homing

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44After Life

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45Risen

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Books by Esther Morgan