Irene Plax and Tora Estep

Tora Estep

Sumptuous Bird, oil on canvas

Inspiration piece


Irene Plax


Ms. Marimba was sent in to be the Kindergarten co-teacher, but unfortunately for her, Miss D was there first, before class size expanded and team teaching was instituted. Miss D wears shirts that are too low-cut and cloying perfume. Ms. Marimba watches with dread as the little girls idolize and mimic her. Miss D is quick to put kids in timeout without discussion, to show she is the boss. She brought her aunt’s parrot for the class pet without consulting Ms. Marimba first. Ms. Marimba worried first about diseases the kids could get from the bird. But after Miss D refused to let the bird out, even at night, Ms. Marimba’s sympathies shifted.

The class named the parrot Lulu, but whenever Ms. Marimba tried to plan a lesson around birds, or colors, or pet responsibility, Miss D found a reason to veto her. “I feed her, I know what she’s used to. Don’t worry about it. You worry to much.” Ms. Marimba knew she was no worrywart. She went on planning other lessons.

One day, Lulu spoke.

“Cooter taaaalk! Cooter taaalk!” squawked Lulu.

Miss D laughed out loud without returning Ms. Marimba’s glance. “I guess my aunt said some stuff!” Ms. Marimba was unsure how to answer the questions that followed from the students, and held her embarrassed face in both hands, hoping the kids wouldn’t repeat Lulu’s obscene message, unless it meant Miss D exclusively would deal with it.

That same evening, Ms. Marimba stayed late preparing the classroom for a unit on the continents of the world. Before she put the blanket over Lulu’s cage, the bird spoke again. With the fan off and the hallways empty, Ms. Marimba could hear a little better.
“Coup d’etaaaaaaat,” squawked Lulu. “Coup d’etaaaaaat!”

Ms. Marimba looked at her stack of papers. She could finish in the morning. She opened the classroom window and opened the door to Lulu’s cage. Lulu moved left and right on her perch.

“Come on,” said Ms. Marimba, and Lulu hopped out. Lulu flew to the windowsill and the length of her wings alarmed Ms. Marimba. Lulu flew out of the window and onto a branch a few feet away. She showed Ms. Marimba the side of her face, and their eyes locked. Ms. Marimba picked up a small wood block and threw it at the branch where Lulu remained.

“Coup d’etaaaaat,” Lulu squawked one last time, and off the parrot went.

Ms. Marimba closed the window, closed the cage door and covered the cage. She put her belongings in her bag and turned off the light and left. Outside, there was no trace of Lulu, and Ms. Marimba hurried to her car, driving home with the radio turned off and the windows down. She was pleasantly surprised by her own wingspan.

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