When I was a girl, my father kept aviaries of canaries and budgerigars. He loved these little birds and I loved to see them darting about like so many tiny bright arrows. I remember the parrot but it didn’t belong to us and now I have no idea who brought it into the house. I think it must have only been staying for a short time because, apart from this one vivid memory, it was gone. I would translate these birds into bits of writing and even now, when I look at a page, I can still sometimes see golden full stops, exotic blue and green commas and semi-colons and the odd dazzling colour of the exclamation mark!
There were canaries through all those years,
Endlessly flying down the days
Like little golden full stops
At the end of a sentence.
There were budgerigars, too.
Blue and green, chittering and chattering
Like commas or semi-colons
Taming an especially unruly paragraph.
And there was one great question mark of a parrot.
Where did he come from?
Who brought him in?
Sitting wherever he chose,
Staring at us with a cool, sardonic eye.
Shouting and swearing,
‘Shivering his timbers,’
Like some old sea tossed sailor.
Every squawk an exclamation mark on a really
Exciting piece of writing.
But I liked the little wren
Singing in the garden,
Startling the silence
Like a poem.
© Gwen Grant