January 15, 2011

We are pet free this year. I am not happy about this state of affairs. Last year in Colima, we had several parakeets, four angel fish, and, of course, the saintly Maggie, our German Shepherd (may she rest in peace). We used to have an African Grey parrot. Out of a misplaced sense of longing for her (him?) I wrote her into Book #2. Here it is:

“Hannah and Isaac had bought the property from a prosperous saddle-maker whose workshop had converted handily into a workspace for looms, trays for mating moths, drying cocoons and all the paraphernalia of silk making including an orchard of mulberry trees in the back.

It soon became apparent why the saddler’s wife had left behind a parrot from Afrika with grey plumage with a tail of vivid red. The bird had no greater pleasure than to lure an unsuspecting person to its perch, then stretch out its scrawny neck like a serpent and slash with its black beak, leaving behind a torn cuticle, bleeding thumbnail or bloody earlobe. Then it would fill the garden with the shrill, human-like cacklings while it squatted on its perch, swaying from side to side, shifting its weight from one scaly leg to the other, a pyramid of black and white sunflower shells underneath, screeching invective to its wild cousins in the mulberry trees.

Whether the parrot was male or female was a matter best left to another bird to determine. The saddle-maker’s wife had named it after Zeus, the war god of the Romans. Isaac had re-named the bird “Güzel”, which meant “Pretty” in Turkish, in a vain attempt to soften its disposition. But the screaming continued.

Güzel was a clever, nippy creature and Matteo, not yet four years old, was not permitted near it. When the child cried, the bird imitated him cruelly and made him sob the harder. Zephra threatened to pluck it and throw it in the soup pot, which only made Matteo more unhappy.”