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Image by Caroline Forbes

At the parrot sanctuary

Esther Morgan


At the parrot sanctuary

Esther Morgan


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 Reading from Her Poems

1The Reason

2Neighbours

3Condemned

4Out of Season

5Images on Glass

6Avocados

7Industrial Light and Magic

8Hints for Outback Motoring

9Solo

10The Cows

11Relics

12The House of

13Endurance

14Self Possession

15Bone China

16The Ghost of This House

17Care-taking

18Fast

19House Rules

20Her Given Names

21Imperative

22Balancing Act

23The Ring Hand

24Why Don't You Just Leave?

25Safe House

26Are You Homesick for the House of Cards?

27Growing a Girl

28British Winter Time

29At the parrot sanctuary

30Grace

31Waiting Places

32The Long Holidays

33Spare Room in Summer

34The Messengers

35Among Women

36Epiphany

37What Happens While We are Sleeping

38Summer Storm

39Garbo Among Us

40Hide Nor Hair

41Five Easy Pieces

42The China Mender's Daughter

43Homing

44After Life

45Risen

Books & cds by Esther Morgan