Parrot-Colored Canyons, Winged Women


I just got back from a week in the light-flooded red-gold canyons of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, with a gloriously shining group of women writers. Nearly 120 women, all astonishing writers, of diverse histories and experiences and knowledges and ways of being in the world, gathered for the 2015 AROHO (A Room of Her Own Foundation) women writers’ retreat at Ghost Ranch. I am still searching for words to describe the impact of these wild and joyous and fierce and brilliant sisters. But in the meantime, here is a poem that belongs to all of us, screeched in my unbeautiful voice:

The Parrot Poem

Comes the circus in all its parrot colors –
blood gushing from poppy stems,
bigsky blue, gold wingtips of aspen –

and here come I! Screeching I am –
a noisy, parrot-jawed,
parrot-feathered, claw-foot crone!

Whoop! shout the animals.
You’re a three-ring goddess now!
Crack that whippy little ringmaster and say

Get back, you brainworm hierarchs!
And under sudden stars the elephants
slowly dance for themselves

the secret dances of no one watching
while flying overhead I sing
in my unbeautiful voice:

Ancient ones, unhood your eyes!
Unleash your wings! Flash from your own breasts
to feather all your waiting nests!

And if any mousey traps arise, any old
fear-stink-cheese traps,
I’ll badger them out with my great brock jaws!

Now claw-teeth catch and shining,
up you come – o my gorgeous-feathered parrots,
into roister-doister dawn!

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