Lit Issue 2018 | Poetry

Jaywalking in Kansas

Audrey tells me about the birds,
and her dead mother.
The strands of the two stories
tangle like her curly Filipina hair.
She thinks the nested robins are listening.

It’s risky talking this long,
even so low I hear the leaves race along the sidewalk in the breeze.
Thirty minutes into our last conversation her government phone went dead at midnight,
and it wasn’t the battery.
Poor thing: she was like a pigeon
jaywalking in Kansas.

“My friends act like I’m crazy,”
she whispers, “when I tell them
that birds know what I’m thinking.”
In her Maria mocking voice:
“Oh the birds again, huh—
like in a Hitchcock movie?”

I want to make her blush,
say something about her breasts in a white blouse on a summer day.
But she’s having man troubles,
and her therapist is on vacation.

“He’s not a man walking behind me
down the street. Not like that.”

‘So, he’s in your head?’ I ask her.
“Yes.”
‘And he doesn’t approve of what you’re telling me?’
“Right.”

“I’m okay with the birds,”
she chuckles. “It’s been six years now.
And the red ones remind me of my mother,
wearing a red scarf
in a picture with me
when I was six years old.”

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

O.A. Fraser lives in Hyde Park.  He explores the anguish of individuals whose lives are marginalized through the misfortune of poverty, and dislocated as a consequence of social change.  Often he examines mental illnesses as hidden disabilities: the constellation of anxiety disorders in general, as well as the experience, stigma, and quandary of agoraphobia in particular.

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