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Thursday, October 29, 2020


by Ellen Aronofsky Cole

Credit: Josh Seong / Verywell

The room is fat with jungle sounds.
Haiku runs three-dimensional laps
around her cage, across the floor,
up the bars to her food dish, across
two perches, whistles, rings her bell,
Okay, I may be turning into Haiku.
My manic pacing, the way I roll
and twitch in bed, unceasing motion.
Pamala, the parrot behavior specialist,
tells me Haiku’s a fearful bird.
All parrots are, she says. After all,  
they’re prey. So that explains it,
my sleepless nights, how I can’t
concentrate, can’t settle.  The congregation
of monsters salivating outside the door,
one named COVID, the one we call
World on Fire, the mendacious Cheeto-hued
one bellowing his own name. 
My new doctor says we’ll all sleep better
after November third.  Perhaps, but
fear’s a cold bone that runs deep in me,
and sleep’s the promised land. This evening
Haiku grinds her beak, a happiness
behavior that precedes sleep. 
The sound soothes me. I marvel again
how she twists her head backwards,
buries it beneath her wings.

Ellen Aronofsky Cole has two books of poetry, Notes from the Dry Country (Mayapple Press, 2019) and Prognosis (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in Fledgling Rag,  Bellevue Literary Review, Little Patuxent Review, Potomac Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Washington Post Magazine, and other journals, and in The New England Journal of Medicine. Ellen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband Brian and her parrot Haiku.