We grew up together, on the opposite sides of golden bars,
I of the city, she of the sky.
Every day we'd meet, we'd weave feathers into our hair.
She was always gentle while my brushing would make her cry.
I'd tell her stories of home, of the noisy cars and steel towers,
of bitter smoke and crowded streets.

Always she'd listen,
never talking, never telling me about her own life,
offering little more than a smile or a shy laugh.

She kept sand dollars in her pockets, the currency of dreamers,
and she'd decorate her face with the charcoal of long-dead fires.

At night, when I'd leave, she would weep and her tears
were nothing more than flower petals, stripped of a stem.

She begged me to free her and when I unlocked the door,
when she spread her nonexistent wings for the first time,
I was sorry I had no done so sooner.

The untamed city scared her and when she saw it she pushed against my side,
whispering your words weren't like this!, all accusing,
sore with betrayal.
But I showed her new people, we dipped our feet in indigo fountains,
leaving a procession of tiny footprints in our wake.

As it grew dark,
as shadows worked themselves into the spaces between our
interlocking fingers, she named the constellations,
she coaxed the moon into my palm.

And she was gone when the sun came,
when it was dusty again and the shabby city had lost its magic.
I found her back at the birdcage, her hands wrapped around the unmoving bars.
You tricked me! she howled,
her hair so tangled that I'd never be able to brush it smooth again.

I was no help at all,
I just watched her as she shriveled, as she wilted,
as she cursed me again and again, unable to return home.
It's your fault, but it wasn't, it never was.
The world's too big a place to not have wings.