John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.
The kookaburra I recall from my early teenage years, perched on a phone pole outside my bedroom window, opening his beak wide and laughing the day awake. I peered out the window and there was the girl next door already out in her yard, showing off her legs in short shorts and her brown arms with a t-shirt. The flowers of spring vaporized the air with perfumes from the sweet to the sickly. So I was both delighted and disillusioned at what passed for female attractiveness in my neighborhood. The kookaburra dropped down to our white wooden fence, continued its loud cry. Maybe it was a male calling out for companionship of the opposite sex. The girl smiled at the raucous bird. She then looked up at my window, smiled my face into a brief shade of redness. The bird flew off. I retreated. She continued to prance around her yard, singing one of the latest pop songs, a song I truly hated. It was about a woman pining for her man. As with the kookaburra, her song would have to wait.
Francine knew no embarrassment, dressed up to her intentions, abhorred modesty, embraced a good time like a she-bear smothering an intruder. Her life-style had no borders, could be wild or even wilder, stubborn and surreal, and no hour was her marker. Francine couldn’t be disguised or cajoled into doing something she didn’t want to do or made to feel guilty. She took the feelings of people, bit and swallowed them up, leaving only the bones to glow on disco-ball drenched dancefloors, neon sidewalks, or moon-soaked fields. Her victims would never take their next breath as an answer.
She leapt from the bridge. More than just a jump. Or a fall. Somewhere, in her mind, she was in it for style points. That’s why the splash was such a disappointment. It was loud, as brassy as exploding water can get. She was hoping for a clean entry. No one saw it. But the noise caught the attention of the usual few strolling along the river bank. But, by that time, the surface had reclaimed its composure, was flat and calm. So they couldn’t judge the way she intended. But they judged all right… from many a vantage point higher than that bridge.