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Sunday Night Read: 'Poor Polly'

This short story series submission is from Peter Manning of Port Coquitlam.
"Poor Polly" is our March 31, 2024, Sunday Night Read, written by Peter Manning of Port Coquitlam.

In the 1950's, my Uncle Joe, now long dead and hopefully in Heaven, was a Catholic priest.

For years he had a parrot called Polly that he kept in a cage in the church’s vestry. This was when the Mass was said in Latin. And over the years Polly learned the Latin responses and would say them out loud if prompted.

When I was a young teenager, Uncle Joe died after a long good life.

And Polly, with no one to care for her, was taken away, but we were never sure by whom. It was a hectic, busy time with Uncle Joe’s funeral and sorting out his estate.

Many years later, I was married, had a good career and a lovely wife and a young daughter, Jennifer.

When Jennifer was 15, she insisted on having a dog. After much discussion and back and forth, we agreed to let her have one.

Near where I worked, although I had never visited it, was a small pet shop that had been there for years. One lunch time, I popped in to see if they had dogs for sale or if not ,could tell me where we could get one.

The owner was busy with an older woman who was looking for a goldfish. So I had a walk round the shop, while I was waiting.

There were rabbits and mice and even rats for sale in cages along the wall. Hamsters and guinea pigs as well. Even snakes.

The back of the store was not well lit. In the farthest darkest corner of the shop, barely visible I could see what looked like was an old bird cage on the floor and as I approached it I was startled to see that within the cage on its perch was a limp old parrot.

In a sudden spark of memory, I was transported back to Uncle Joe and the Mass and Polly and 30 or more years ago.

And so, I knelt down beside the cage and whispered gently to the parrot, in Latin I thought I had forgotten, "Dominus Vobiscum."

Polly heartily replied, "Et cum spiritu tuo."

- Peter Manning, Port Coquitlam

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