Most people aren't aware of this, but
it helps to have a parrot in the room.
Living with the bird has lightened me,
phrases repeated I don't remember saying
aloud. It is a dialogue with self that hangs
on an archive of utterance.
In this way language becomes a paradox.
I call the bird Quin, neither of us
knowing what they'd call themselves.
Their plumage the pastel tones of gender
and duality. That's pink and blue, supposedly.
Quin isn't your regular domestic aviator.
In fact they were born in open country, Australia.
We live together now and all because I was
on the dark web that time looking for drugs.
I let them peck at me to feel something
similar, like consenting to destiny.
Strip me of agency and all that’s left is feeling.
As a five-year-old learning to ride a bike,
the first thing I did was throw myself
from the little turquoise handlebars, deliberately
to the ground. When my mother asked why I did it
I told her, to know how bad falling could be
so I didn’t have to worry about it any more.
I do not hold the memory of this
first-hand, rather the vision of her reminiscence
is planted history, a metaphysical
inheritance. Its recall forms fantasy
nostalgia. Memory squared.
At the centre of me is my mother.
A strange transference over time, to become
my figurative passenger. Like epigenetics,
we keep each other safe.
A tether all the same.
Self-Portrait with Trichotillomania
Peter Scalpello is a queer poet from Glasgow, currently living in London. His work has been published internationally. His debut pamphlets were published by Broken Sleep Books in March 2021. Tweets @p_scalpello.