Click here to listen to Gregory Di Prinzio read this poem.
At first the house was so quiet you could hear the songs no one was singing and you wanted company, so you went down to the pet store and bought a canary. You told the boy you wanted one that sings: no bird in a silent blue-funk, no washed-up has-been crying into his water dish. Remember, Baby, the excited way we kissed when, after overcoming a touch of stage-fright, Leo began to show off his pipes? Then Leo expanded his repertoire. Then Leo's repertoire became predictable, monotonous, annoying. It was your bird—I could leave at any time. You were forced to listen. Often you dropped the purple cloth over his cage, closing the curtain in the middle of his set, but still he couldn't take a hint. I see how it is, Baby. The cage kept getting closer to the window, the sliding doors kept getting left a little more open as Leo pounded away at the standards to an empty room, or competed with the stereo. It's never easy, Baby. You know this because, even when you left all of his portcullises gaping at the Farmer's Market in the street two floors below—he didn't leave immediately, but took 11 encores. Were you happy, Baby? for the quiet of that brief half hour before the guilt and worry set in and you went to the window to see how well he was adjusting and you saw him with a girl in a crowd of Girl Scouts, who held him up in her palm—that little yellow ball of madness, and shouted (because she could see the cage in the window)"Lady, did you lose your bird?"No, Baby. The view's just fine from here. And remember, Baby. You said you'd be right down.