Saturday 18 June 2022

'Within These Walls' by Abby Manzella

A Companion Arrives

Into the nursery a parakeet arrives—the color of a tennis ball and plump like it, too, with friendly speckles in its wings. 

Cute, says mother. 

A perfect companion, says father. 

The girl says, Bad

Her voice goes unheeded. 

They are new parents, young and hopeful of all they might provide.

In the newly painted room, a springtime purply-blue that softens these autumnal months, the parakeet stares at the baby girl throughout the night, saying not a word. Its sharp break breathes the girl through her crib’s bars—a breath that sucks in substance. First her thoughts become ghostly mist—unnoticed—next her curls—mysterious. Eventually, even her lips evaporate like the inhalation of smoke. In silence, only the parakeet and the room remain.

Down the Chimney

Wind swoops down the smokeless chimney like a starling separated from its murmuration. Shrieking, the whooshing air crashes into corners where once a family lived—father, mother, daughter—until the girl fell and fell to ash like in a nightmare, but with no awaking. Blown into nothingness—her family soon followed after her with their lives made empty. Even so, the parents lived on—elsewhere. Now only these cries circle the girl’s dusty periwinkle room and its emptiness.

The House Awakens

It is spring. A realtor has brushed away the cobwebs and the broken wings of the past. He beats a dustiness out of the curtain and lets the sunlight seep in, casting out all that wants forgetting. With the light, inside gray returns to color, water runs crisp in the kitchen sink, and a new family sees flowering possibilities without knowing the house’s history. They gaze out to the trees and hear the twittering of nesting birds. 

For them, let it be different. Let something new take flight.

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