Best, Pet Bird
by Jesse Albatrosov
Our bird died without warning yesterday
I found him, slack mouthed, eyes parted
but unmoving, breast still beneath full feathers with toes
curled, as if gripping the perch outside as he always did on
warm days. The other bird was acting strange all day, I didn’t
investigate the unusual sounds or why I needed to retrieve him
only to return to a locked cage. Little Houdini, unexplainable
body sliding through spaces meant to imprison him.
My daughter cried out to me,
Mommy, I think Cheep Cheep is sick or tired.
He’s stared and stared at me until he needed to lie down.
I found the bird there, blue and white feathers sleek
against a hollow frame, an empty shell of bird,
the leftover pet suit we came to know as ours.
I didn’t mourn for this bird—its aching body
unable to speak out and say I am ailing,
molted feathers resting beneath it as if
its own unneeded extensions were always
purposeful—plucked and placed below for
when he decided to make a bed of them—
a blanket amongst seeds and stems of millet,
his boneyard of items waiting for a second purpose.
When I removed him from the cage, the other bird
squawked wildly, in grief or anger or protest,
his puffs of downward air created downy swirls
of plucked under-feathers, memories soon to be removed,
cage sanitized as a precaution. Animals say goodbye to
their mates and their friends in much simpler ways
than we do—singing their souls out of discarded
bodies, then singing to them in longing—
He was still warm when I moved and buried him, heat
permeated the towel as if to set fire to my maternal treason.
His friend hasn’t stopped singing his song, and I can imagine
what he’s saying. Little bird, old friend, looked
straight into the eyes of that girl and dropped dead.
Jesse is an emerging voice drawing inspiration from life and human experiences. She was the runner up in the 2017 Writer's Atelier contest for short fiction and her work is published or forthcoming in THAT Literary Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Mothers Always Write and Press 53's Prime Number Magazine. You can find her online at www.jessealbatrosov.com or on Facebook and Instagram: @jalbatrosov.