The budgie speaks of himself in the third person. This is not an affectation.
However hungry, the budgie has never eaten road kill. Nor will the budgie, ever.
How far removed, the budgie often asks himself, is he from the feral state? And when it comes, this state, what will it look like?
Once, on an evening much like this one, The Family left the sliding glass doors to the deck open.
How long ago? The budgie’s sense of time is unreliable. Neither watch nor calendar does the budgie own.
Supper was being served, of this the budgie is certain; the sheers were billowing in with the August breeze.
Loose in the kitchen, the budgie could not resist.
Once outside, the budgie marveled at how quickly The Family adapted to his absence, though The Blonde One wept for a time while the budgie watched from atop the air conditioner that jutted out her bedroom window.
The Family finished supper: it was, and is, their practice to eat the flesh of mammals, the three of Them.
Other days They eat of the flesh of domesticated fowl. Chicken—ridiculous bird.
The budgie remembers the scent of cattle flanks sizzling in liquefied garlic.
Sometimes it was pork.
These days the budgie haunts the backyard as a specter, subsisting on stale maple seeds and avoiding the shadows of hawks, resigned to his fate as a non-native species.
He would not go back; that’s what the budgie tells himself.
Clinging to the fishing line with which someone—The Bald One?—has repaired the wind chimes, the budgie watches The Family as though peering into a yellowy world.
The Family in amber light.
Is the budgie lonely?
The budgie is alone.
Might it be said that the budgie embraces solitude? It might, yes.
But what of other birds? What of migratory flocks? The redbreasts of spring? The swallow and the finch?
What of the hummingbird?
The budgie would prefer not to be condescended to.
Nor to be lumped in with native species.
What of the famed parrots of Telegraph Hill? How they flourished in climes foreign and adverse? Intended by the hand of God for the tropics, they accepted their fate, unlikely immigrants making do.
Better than making do. Thriving.
The budgie prefers to allow his silence at this moment to communicate all that he feels on the issue.
Today, the forecast is for storms, widely scattered. The sky to the northwest has ripened to the color of bruised plums.
Among the budgie’s consolations at first was this: The Family’s choice of replacement, a now-dead goldfish. It lasted two days.
The budgie had watched it succumb to the rigors of careless transportation in a Ziploc bag, and to the shock of tap water.
The budgie witnessed its inglorious interment: The Blonde One flushing the goldfish down the toilet.
Not that the budgie would have eaten the goldfish, if given the chance.
Today has been a particularly lean day, the budgie feeling threadbare and forlorn.
Once, the budgie could talk, but now he has forgotten the “words.”
Nor would the budgie prefer to enter into a philological discussion as to whether even a single instance of the sounds he produced for choice seeds were in fact “words.”
Today’s a cold day for August, the sun a threadbare memory itself.
The Blonde One slides open the glass door and steps forth to stand on the west-facing deck, fascinated by the encroachment of the thunderhead.
Above her the budgie lurks in the rain gutter, peering over its edge at the crown of The Blonde One’s head and the whirl of hair against the whiteness of Her scalp.
There was a time when the budgie would ride Her shoulder through the house, nestled into the slope of Her neck.
Does She think about the budgie now?
Before pursuing the thought any further, the budgie thinks, with a bitterness that catches him by surprise: Spit in this hand. Wish in the other. Then check to see which one fills up faster.
The Blonde One turns, hand shading Her eyes.
The budgie squats lower in the gutter, down with the crispy maple seed blades and the multi-hued grit from the tar paper roof.
“Looks like it’s going to pour,” The Blonde One calls into the house.
There have always been three of Them, The Family:
The Blonde One, She who first retrieved the budgie from a bank of cages under fluorescent lights. A row of budgies behind smudged glass. “This one,” She said, lifting him for
The Dark One, the mother, to see, Who said, “Just the one?”
(From the start, the budgie couldn’t keep his eyes off The Dark One.)