The Dull Brown Bird Who Knew. {poetry}


Sometimes it is hard to know where you fit, when you are born knowing that none of the family hand-me-downs are yours.

It is hard to know when you are the rare bird that comes in wanting new feathers. It’s not for you, the pecking and the scratching and the confinement of the nest. The claustrophobic arrangement of ways of being that have always just been.

You come in with a different voice.

A different color.

New ideas.

But your individuality and idealism belong to the nest three doors down. So you comply. A peacock amongst  the mockingbirds who mimic and repeat. Your words aren’t heard. Your colors aren’t celebrated. Instead, you are forced to let go of any idea that you might be unique.

“Be the dull brown bird,” they say, “let go of your magic.”

And so you do. Until one day, you find a feather a little different from the rest, and it reminds you to fly.


I remember now
why I forgot to be a writer,
why my amnesia
of words and poetry and inner expression
stayed locked up
in caves
under blankets,
with flashlights and silence
where I poured myself out
then wrung myself dry,
in secret societies
of my own creation.

I remember now.

It was You.

We could never have more than one of anything in our family
and “writer”
was already taken.

“don’t you dare shine as brightly,
in fact,
don’t shine at all,
stay small and forgotten
as we fight for the self-appointed titles
of artistic expression,
that don’t apply to you”

and so my soul hit the road
and moved to a land
of invisible ink,
where no one would know
my stories.
except for that spark of connection
between my insides
and the paper,
I barely knew I was alive,
but it was enough.

words… words

words, they pounded through my veins
and took on a rhythm,
that faint heartbeat of remembrance,
the hum of reminder,
where I met myself on the page.

And decades of secrets came to pass.
Silences that stretched longer than normal,
awkward glances at the clock,
as my palms itched to scratch out the letters forming in my mind —
but it wasn’t dark yet,
so I could not retreat under blankets
and purge myself clean.

Until today,
when the clock struck too many decades
past the point of being Me.

Past the hurried routine of checkmarks and boxes,
“Am I small enough?”
“Do I still feel safe?”

The hour chimes and I put down my pen,
here on this day,
the day I declare myself… “writer”

The ink on my obituary as a dull brown bird
is dry.


Elle Newlands is a hybrid, which makes her complicated, but she is okay with that. An actress, photographer and writer, she spends her days juggling characters, words and pictures. Originally from Scotland, she is currently enjoying the sunshine of California, where she hikes with her dog, rides her horse in the mountains and talks to nature. You could contact her via Facebook or Instagram.


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