CANARY

YOU COULDN'T SAY

During the half term break
from school
Janice said
come see my new canary

 

Gran bought it for me
and so you went with her
through the Square
and across Bath Terrace

 

and into the block of flats
where she lived
with her gran and bird
and she was excited

 

and talked and talked
of the new canary
what do you call him?
you asked

 

Yellow
she said
because its yellow
and the name fits

 

and when you got
to her flat
her gran opened the door
and Janice said

 

I've brought Benedict
to see the new bird
her gran said
ok

 

and let you in
and Janice took you
into the sitting room
and there in a bird cage

 

was the new bird
sitting there
on a perch
making whistling noises

 

some say they talk
if you teach them
Janice said
and I'm going to teach it

 

to say things
and won't that be good?
providing you don't
teach it silly things

 

her gran said
my cousin had one
and he taught it
all kinds of bad words

 

which made
his mother mad
what kind of words?
Janice asked

 

never you mind
what words
her gran said
if I catch you teaching

 

this bird bad words
I'll tan your backside
I won't Gran
Janice said

 

just teach it
sensible words
well mind you do
her gran said

 

now how about
some lemonade and cake?
yes please
you both said

 

and her gran went off
to get the lemonade
and cake
and Janice put

 

her finger
through the bars
of the cage
and talked to the bird

 

but the bird
shuffled away from her
on the perch
and was quiet

 

still she talked to it
and but her finger in
as far as she could
but it just walked as

 

far from her
as it could go
staring at her
with it stark eyes

 

not very friendly is it?
you said
maybe it doesn't like
your red beret

 

maybe red frightens it?
so she took off
her red beret
and the bird came closer

 

and began chirping away
and it kind of pecked
at her finger
not roughly

 

but inquisitively
as if to find out
what it was
then it shuffled off again

 

and then went
and pecked at some
food from a feeder
at the side

 

of the cage
maybe I could get it out
sometime
and let it sit

 

on my finger
like I've seen done
on TV
Janice said

 

what if it flies away?
you asked
I'll keep the door
and windows closed

 

she said
and she opened
the cage door
and put her hand in

 

to get the bird
but the bird
moved away from her
and flapped its wings

 

what are you doing?
her gran said
entering the room
Janice took her hand out

 

of the cage
and shut the door
just wanted to let it
sit on my finger

 

Janice said
her gran put the tray
with lemonade
and pieces of cake

 

on the table
and came over
to the bird cage
you might have frightened it

 

then it might die
she peered in
at the canary
which was perched there

 

staring back at her
now don't you
do that again
do you hear?

 

yes Gran
Janice said sheepishly
her eyes lowered
nice bird

 

you said
maybe it's shy
at the moment
I guess after

 

a little while
it'll get friendly
do you think so?
Janice said

 

sure it will
you replied
her gran smiled
and walked off

 

back to the kitchen again
and you and Janice
ate the cake
and drank the lemonade

 

and you both watched
the canary as it chirped
and walked
along the perch

 

and there
on the side chair
was Janice's red beret
and she asked

 

what words
do I teach?
but you said
I couldn't say.

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