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Caged Bird

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Caged Bird

Stacey Pratt

a poem about lost language

Ask not for whom the caged bird sings,
it sings for thee. For caged birds and freebirds,
dirty birds and wild birds, even hawks
even doves with their olive branches
searching for a bearded man in a big boat. It sings 
on little cat feet. It sings its blues in the cat-bird seat.
It wails its jazz on Bourbon Street,
and does not sing for me, or each to each.
It sings to gulls on Biloxi Beach. Ask not
for whom it sings, for whom it swings
on its little orange feet. It sings for thee,
for thou, for thine own sweet time. That old caged bird,
it sings like human voices upstairs from where
I am, me and mine, eating our pilgrim food,
these rolls as hard as Plymouth Rock, rolling around
our tongues until we speak only Caged Bird,
a language not from the mouth or beak: The caged bird song
is just the creak of unoiled metal
on metal, swinging: Creak, Creak.