American Singer Canary

Cecily Iddings

I tired of trying
to learn the language
no one spoke to me.
For the survival
of my species
I cultivated a tilt
of inquisition on my face
and I burbled and hopped,
which was sufficient
for buying, for instance,
worsted wool blazers
and personal pizzas,
or for saying,
The cage is roomy but
the rent is too high.
I could communicate
with my pupils in        
neat little rows:
B plus, A minus, C, C…
I imagined them
wearing plaid or
matching jackets
and choosing on casual days
from a list of clothing
administrators approved.
I thought of them thinking.
I thought we were at war and how
really we all dressed in slogans
and logos, like a series
of easy readers about
the good-girl triplets
Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka,
who rescue a kitten
and look very much alike.
The blackboard said,
There’s an error
in this sentence.
I spotted it immediately
and it couldn’t fix.