A cage in search of a bird…Kafka for children

There once was a cage
that longed for a bird –
it was lonely and sad,
it was empty and bored;

So it thought of the things
that a bird ought to need,
like a soft place to sleep,
and some water and seed,

and a perch it could perch on,
a swing it could swing,
a mirror to gaze at,
a bell it could ring

and a door that could close
and keep out everything
that might threaten a bird,
and could keep the bird in.

Then along came a bird,
and it looked, and agreed
there was somewhere to sleep,
there was water and seed,

and a perch it could perch on,
a swing it could swing,
a mirror to gaze at,
a bell it could ring,

and it saw it was good,
but it still shook his head,
and it hopped, and it flapped
its wings, and it said

“A cage is a cage
and the sky is the sky
and I am a bird
and a bird has to fly”.

And the cage gave a sigh.

Then it thought and it pondered
all day and all night
and it thought of a way
it could make things all right

and it took off the door
that kept out everything
that might threaten a bird,
but would keep the bird in.

Now the cage has a bird
that goes flying each day
and comes back at night
to talk and to play

and to tell it great tales
of the things that it’s seen
and the sounds that it’s heard
and the places it’s been

and it sits on the perch
and it makes the bell ring
then curls in its nest
and softly it sings;

and it always comes back
from the places it roams
for a cage with no door
has become a fine home,

for a home is a home
and the sky is the sky
and a bird is a bird
and a bird needs to fly.

This unholy mash-up was inspired by Amaya who is hosting dVerse tonight. She gives us some quotes from Kafka and asks us to use them to create a poem or story for children. I chose “I am a cage, in search of a bird.” from The Blue Octavo Notebooks – once I saw that, I was hooked. I’ve channeled Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) here, I think. I’ve read her books over and over again in my time…

I initially wrote it with gender, but I have un-gendered it. First time round, my cage was a she and the bird was a he. I wonder if that would be a different story? How about if the cage was a he and the bird was a she? But maybe it’s confusing to have two “it”s? Feedback is welcome.

It is, of course, a story with a moral, like all good children’s stories.