The Parrots of Puerto Vallarta

Midnight. We chattering tourists,
tamale-filled and Dos Equis-soaked,
wake the caged birds who make
drowsy attempts to answer,
tuck curved beaks under
iridescent wings, close their eyes,
fall away into a lost sky.

In the morning, I call them macaws, the word
parrot too melodious for their shrieks and squawks,
jarring without a jungle chord beneath them.
I stand in a ring of droppings that paint
the concrete around their hotel cage
and apologize. I explain it is their beauty,
our lack of wings, makes us crazy to capture
and contain. Something in green feathers
we crave. Something in the flare of orange
above beaks that bewitches. They cock their
heads, listen eye to eye as if no one
had ever spoken gently to them before.

At the beach, teenagers parasail over
the Gulf, rise on fiesta-colored umbrellas
to claim the sky. These fledglings feel
the thrust of wind, see the planet’s edge
curve, watch fish jump in the sun’s glare.
They point their cameras at passing gulls,
then on themselves soaring in blue space.
Laughing and screaming, they are winched
back to earth, bodies aflame with flight
that burned away their words, left them
squealing and screeching on the sand.

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About the Author

Carolyn Dahl is the 2020 winner of the Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook contest for A Muddy Kind of Love, which will be published by North Dakota State University in 2021. Her 2019 chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, was a first place winner in the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication contest, the Press Women of Texas’ contest, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Carolyn Dahl
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