My grandmother’s neighbor came over crying and yelling about how she couldn’t find one of her budgies and she was afraid the worst had happened to it. She lived in the studio next door and I went in not knowing what to expect. I had been in an old lady’s home before, my grandma’s for instance, but I got the sense that once you hit a certain age (and grandma wasn’t there yet) you lose track of things. Things like order, and dustpans.
I saw any number of budgies flying around. But Mrs. Carroll did keep track. She knew exactly how many there were supposed to be and I went looking for the missing seventh. There were little green and yellow feathers everywhere; but the apartment was only one room with a bathroom. The little parakeet was not hard to find. It was in the toilet. Whether it was sick when it fell in, or whether it was just looking for a little splash and something went wrong, we didn’t know. But one thing was for sure. The bird was dead, and Mrs. Carroll was devastated. I took the budgie out to the trash and when Mrs. Carroll could collect herself, she needed mint tea and a good rub on the back.
We all went down the elevator for some sunshine. Outside in Riverside Park, she lamented with the other widows and forgotten women who marveled at the gray pigeons still left in the sky.
Soon, we will lose them too.
K Dulai @kjdulai lives in the Bay Area. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pretty Owl Poetry, The Eastern Iowa Review, and Marias at Sampaguitas. She is a current resident of the Pink Plastic House Online Residency.