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Carolina Parakeet

Bird is the Word, 2001, by Mel Chin

the paper

cold and frail,

set in its grave of fire.


the figure

lacks color-

the rich green

and auburn head

and silk wings

that never bent in the wind.


not even a cry,

not a scream

or a breath

or a twitch of the eye,

as the small bird clings to the branch-

prepared to watch

as the world deteriorates

and it’s feathers fall.

The lavish green

falling to the ground-

an image smeared with red

like bloody handprints,


A feeble body


down from the tree tops-

landing silently

on the ashy ground.


Writer's Note:

This poem was inspired by the sculpture pictured above and the sad reality of the Carolina Parakeet. I chose this sculpture as inspiration for my poem because of it’s simple appearance, yet important message it conveys through the details of its creation. The sculpture is made of dictionary pages and depicts a Carolina Parakeet, an extinct species of bird. It’s almost as if the sculpture is a statue honoring the deceased bird. I wanted to convey this through my poem by describing the beauty of the bird, and emphasizing the extinction of the bird. Through this poem, I wanted to create a contrast between the sorrowful death of the Carolina Parakeet, and the way that it died silently and unnoticed.

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