Interlude

Water from last night’s storm chokes the gutters, rushing
like panic-stricken bulls at a Spanish event.
I’m sitting undisturbed, alone,
on my back steps in the dim light of a Brisbane dawn.
I glance around my garden.

My mind slips from one disembodied bush
to the next, like pale ghosts from a Henry Lawson
morning they stand, not registering on my booze-laden synapses.
I should know these fellows. My mind is not up to it.
I’m not good company, stuporous in fact.

My mouth is a gasping fish, and a yawn
recreates my face. A crushing pain behind my eyes urges alcohol,
more alcohol, at which demand
my stomach erupts and I void into the garden.
I’ve messed my shirt and shorts.
I have no memory of removing the reeking garments.
I’m slumped on the step, the eye that still functions
flickering from one grey image to the next, never still.
I didn’t say I was in a fight.

Bluey whimpers and my head moves on a go-slow swivel to seek
him out. He is cringing beside my knee,
waiting, waiting,
as the dense fog catches a lightning-strike, a lightning-swift
sneak attack from a storm near gone. The light crashes against my senses.
I cannot see! Something is brewing. Something momentous.
I feel it. I fear it.

The mist is cloying. If I turn my head skywards and
screw up my eyes against the light,
I can make out
just the faint outline of a Lillipilly tree
in my neighbour’s garden.
Their dogs that were creating a furious noise,
was it minutes ago? have gone quiet.
Toby lies under the house, whimpering. Mick is under the steps near me,
huddled in the dirt. Knowing him, his eyes will be shut.
I am frankly terrified.

A kookaburra lands on my clothesline.
She steps from one foot to the other, taking her time
to get comfortable.
Her ringing laugh is a flourish of trumpets that
tears my head as hot knives of sound search and destroy.
The sound bounces through the bush,
meandering like a drunken motorist, then crashes
somewhere in the mist. It shatters
the crystal cobwebs that jewel-like, decorate the waters
of the local creek, and
sets the young ponies to gallop in utter joy
across my paddocks.

The kookaburra is excited (maybe the weather) then
eyes my singlet-clad form. Her gaze is critical, almost judgmental.
Goosebumps multiply on my exposed flesh.
The fog drapes like a shroud around the bird’s shoulders.

Slowly back and forth, one foot to the other.

Fascinated, I watch, slowly-responding eyes reflect my growing
awareness.
As an image in a photograph begins to find form in a darkroom,
so does my world swirl into fragile form.
I stare like a mopoke in the bush at night steadily piecing it altogether.
I dare not blink.

The kookaburra’s glance seems stern,
forbidding, unforgiving,
hypnotic, enervating.
I drag myself away, unable to focus my aching eyes.
Then I lose it. She’s thrown back her head to peals of laughter.
Her shrieking excitement sunders the morning as she
flies away into the mist.
My head rings with her noise. She knows no mercy
for the self-inflicted.

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