I won’t warble.
Won’t cluck, chirrup or quack.
Won’t gesticulate wildly with arms aflutter
while I sing some intricate song
memorized for the purpose
of making you notice me.
I will not sit atop a fence post
with feathered plumage aplomb
and pipe for your aural delectation.
I will not do that.
And yet there are those of you
who feel you should.
Those who delight in their self-professed
ornithologic repertoire of
Ah, but what do these dancing cockatiels
really feel when late at night
the cloth drops down
over their chattering heads
and solitary confined refinement
truly sets in?
Do they tuck their beaks beneath tufted wing
and come to dream
of one small boy who resides in
a distant Russian village known as
They upon their lofty perch will
never speak his cryptic language,
but then again,
Yes, of course… it’s Russian.
But who speaks Russian?
Who speaks Russian to him?
The answer: No one.
No one at all.
No one calls out to him by name for
There is no name he has ever answered to.
But this is not to say that
he has not been named.
Indeed, we now know of him as
‘The Bird Boy’.
Born in 2001,
he was raised by a mother
who never uttered his name.
There in Kirovsky, Russia,
locked away in a two room domain
he existed until the age of seven,
yet not once
did he hear the sound of a human voice.
But for that moment
when food was brought
and set down before him,
there was no interaction whatsoever.
this is not to say that
he spent those seven years in total isolation.
No. He was not alone for
he shared those two rooms
with a multitude of cages.
Yes, and in those cages
the mother kept birds as pets.
All those birds and one small boy.
She was fond of the birds,
but apparently not fond of
every pet in the room.
In 2008, the mother of 31 years
had raised this boy to the age of seven.
It was here that a inquisitive social worker
discovered the aviary and its
one special inhabitant.
Imagine that first encounter.
Now perhaps you assume that
the Bird Boy was mute and
completely lacking in vocabulary,
He did attempt to converse.
This seven year old boy
communicated by way of chirping and
the fluttering movement of his hands.
There in the cage cluttered room,
he attempted to convey himself by way of
the only means of expression
he had ever known.
For just who were his true siblings
if not an assortment of parakeets and finches?
Signing away her corrupted right of parenthood,
the mother released the boy
into the care of the State.
A supple transition from caged aviary
to the cooped captivity
of an asylum.
And there now on quiet afternoons
when the Sun comes to wane through
pale curtain cloth,
I imagine that moment when
a certain birdsong erupts to echo
down the asylum’s long lithium hallways.
There to emit through barred window
and out across manicured lawn
to the distant waiting ears
of a sparrow
who tilts his head
©08 Jack Hubbell