My Sister the Cockatoo

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Ealancheliyan s/Noun Project

Iowa Bird of Mouth is a yearlong, online crowdsourced poetry project created by Jennifer L. Knox honoring a different Iowa bird each month. (You can add to this month’s open source poem here!) Last weekend at the Ames Public Library, as part of this year’s Maximum Ames Music Festival, several writers shared bird-related poems. Here’s one of them.

There is a version of me
that looks like a troll
doll. Standing in my robe,
waiting for the bathroom.
My sister sits at a miniature
vanity. My sister nibbles
on her pasteboard vanity,
an over plucked woman child.
We live in a nest made of
clothes. We wear each other’s
clothes. Sometimes my sister
looks like a troll doll.
People look at her in disbelief
when she says she’s going to
med school. She often talks
about her night in jail and about
all the bake sales she’s done.
When she’s not looking,
I put her make-up in my purse.

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Meg Johnson is the author of the poetry collection Inappropriate Sleepover. She started dancing at a young age and worked professionally in the performing arts for many years. She is the editor of Dressing Room Poetry Journal and received her MFA in creative writing from the Northeast Ohio MFA program. Her nonfiction has appeared in publications including BUST and Ms. Magazine.