The Canary Still Writes Poetry

cw: none

This story is a metaphor:
the canary speaks to me.
Through its eyes, I told you
a story of never fitting in:
a story of expectations,
and failures,
and all the ripping out of the heart.
And though this is a metaphor,
I promise you:
it is all truth.
It all happened –
in its own way. Its own time.

The canary still
writes poetry
(it will never stop)

Love Is Salvation

cw: none

That’s the thing about love though,
isn’t it?
Love comes back, and no matter
how you bite and snip:
love comes, love lingers.
It lets you climb out of your shell.
And one day that canary flew –
it flew so far away,
so fast and so wild,
and it sang the whole time.
And all the cruelty that had burdened it,
all those harsh hands –
they were gone.
But the gentle hands found the canary again,
and the canary learned
it had always sung,
had always flown,
had always had everything it ever needed,
even though it was ripped away.

And it stilled eats black-ink-stained vellum flowers sometimes,
the hunger for words unable to escape it,
but it eats birdseed too,
and it sings,
and it flies with a flock.
And that’s love –
that’s the canary –
it is the final step in the story:

What Someone Cannot Be

cw: references to using canaries in coal mines

It was painful when the canary’s best efforts
were met with derision. It sang for
unkind hands, and those hands took
it and brought it deep in the mines,
where it was not suited. It missed
the sunshine of its little back
room, and even its vellum
and ink. The canary did not,
could not, sing down there,
and it was called a fluke; and
it was told that it was bad; and
it returned to suffocating itself
on poetry. When the gentle hands
next came, it did not trust them,
so was it hurt. But gentle hands
are patient hands, too.

The First Performance

cw: none

Singing alone
was very different
from singing in front of another:
when the canary finally sang again,
it sang in front of
those sweet, gentle hands,
its friends.
It was not lifted
and put to work,
but there was applause.
It thought, perhaps,
it could sing again.

Canary’s Song

cw: none

First, the canary re-discovered flight.
For the first time, its wings lifted
with air beneath: it soared in the sky.

Second, the canary re-discovered the sun.
For the first time, it felt warmth
on its face, and didn’t want to leave.

Finally, the canary re-discovered songs.
For the first time, it opened its beak
and music came out: it sang.

The First Escape

cw: none

When you leave open a door,
eventually it will be used.
And when the air sang too sweet,
and all the canary’s feathers healed,
it found itself slipping
from one small world into
the bigger, beautifuller one.
It flew for the first time,
and the flight was hard,
but it felt so right.
Still, shelter came a-callin’;
the canary came back.
And in the room,
it no longer hated
the truth the window had revealed.

That Pleasant Feeling

cw: none

One day,
when those gentle hands leave –
the window is open.
The canary sits at the edge of the window,
and feels the breeze.
The sun is warm;
the air is cool;
it feels, inside,
a song building.
It knows, though –
it knows better.
It cannot sing.
Still, it is nice to dream.

One Step at a Time

cw: none

When the canary next eats flowers,
it thinks of the taste of bird seed.
When the gentle hands return,
it gathers up all the remaining parchment,
and all the spilled ink,
and the hands take it away.
Behind, they leave birdseed.
The canary thinks that
it doesn’t mind this so much.

As Things Change

cw: references to metaphorical body horror

The gentle hands
(as the canary thought of them)
could not be around all the time.
It was sad, but the canary knew
that hands had things beyond
its four walls.
After all: the window
showed a whole world out there.
Still, when the gentle hands were gone,
sometimes cruel hands would come.
They would undo all the bandages,
and make the canary bleed,
trying to get it to sing
by causing it pain.

If the canary bit,
the hands would hurt it worse.
It was tired of having its heart eaten:
and so, it stayed quiet, yearning
for the gentle hands –
the only hands that never
turned on it.
Those same hands
took down the curtains:
now, they could never
block its view of the world outside.


cw: none

When they came back –
the same gentle hands
that did not hurt.
They came back.
The canary expected
to bleed words for them.
But the hands were
still gentle,
and instead of vellum flowers,
it was fed birdseed.
Its stomach didn’t hurt.
The gentle hands left again –
but, even though it was foolish…
the canary hoped.

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