The green parrot, that old charmer,
tilts his head, then slings
himself from the perch, landing
on your shoulder. Raucous as a grand-
mother, world-traveler who left you
destitute except for this
ancient sailor full of lore.
You beg another tale of oceans,
ports you’ve never seen and never
plan to visit. Marvels. But he
just shrugs his wings.
He’s squandered all his songs
on your blank white walls. He sits
silent, gazing past you.
Once a week they come together
in this room that lets in more light
than any place they’ve ever lived –
all white and angular, with arias
slipping from invisible speakers.
Irene comes from scrambling eggs
for a husband who fills out
an armchair afternoon; she leaves
crumpled newspapers full
of unattended theater notices.
Donna wears too much mascara
smudged at the corner of her eye
and long sleeves trailing the wrist,
a high neckline so you never see
the throat that chokes on dinner.
In once-a-week dresses and careful
heels, they know they couldn’t live
here, even in their best of dreams.
Real-life dramas come unscored,
and no one speaks of those.
The music slides through air. Light
on walls magnifies Tosca, Lucia,
Butterfly singing artful sorrows
unlike the ones from which, each
week, the women come together here.
Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in
the Sierra Nevada, she also helps her husband (a retired
wildlife biologist) with his field projects. Her poems have
appeared in Grand Street, The Iowa Review, The New York
Quarterly, Poetry International, and elsewhere. She is also
included in the new anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold
Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004).