by Kate Davis
Outside the laundromat, my mother explains how she mixes
strawberry ice cream with the nutritional shake her doctors have prescribed.
Behind her stands her own mother, who has been dead since before I was born, juggling the corpse of my
mother’s childhood pet, a canary named Tweety.
The bird is frozen and hard. But it has to be Homemade—the Homemade brand, she says because it’s
better. The taste attributed to some unknown ingredient buried in the thick tub of sugar and cream. It is
one of the easier fixes to the sludgy protein meant
to rebuild her withered frame. None of that Great Value shit, right? I ask. Right, she replies.
Her mother throws the bird to me. I try to drop the bird, but the brittle feathers stick until my hands are
no longer my hands, but yellow canaries born with canaries
for eyes and canaries for wings and canaries for claws. The heat from the dryers has made us measure the
Summer day, sickly and wet, in cycles. And as the spray of water alerts
us to another ten minutes still to wait, my mother and I both soon find we are no longer ourselves, but
canaries, and only in our canary forms, do we remember the day
her mother wrapped fingers around our yellow necks,