By Kate Maxwell-
In a triangle patch of overgrown green, between lanes of traffic and bored faces behind glass, a stand-off simmers. Little sand-coloured rabbit stands, high on its haunches, facing off a white Cockatoo.
Verdant from weeks of rain, scatterings of tasty-to-birds-and-rabbits’ weeds have sprouted yellow through the grass. And now, for our traffic stop entertainment, a show of intersection territory claim. Neither species will cede. But the barrel-chested cockatoo, with curved beak and sharp claws would send me bounding if I were bunny-built. Its feathered mates are screeching and posturing behind it too: always intimidating when you’re faced with a gang of cocky thugs. But little rabbit stands strong. Nose twitching, paws at its chest. Maybe, armed with the knowledge that its fluffiness may prompt human intervention, cockatoos are not natural predators, or just the instinct that outlasting myxomatosis probably means it’ll survive a loud-mouthed squawker sporting a yellow pompadour.
But this story has no end. Little Rabbit and Cocky may have squared off, bolstered by bravado, and entered into bloodied battle. Fur and feathers flying on the lawned edge of the highway to delight a slow-moving stadium of cars.
“Oh, my God, that bunny and the cocky are fighting,” squeals the eight-year-old in delicious horror.
“No! Maybe we should stop the car! Oh, the poor thing,” Over-tired mother frowns from the front seat.
“Odds are on the Cocky,” deadpans dad with a sideways glance to the grassy traffic island.
And what are they doing here anyway, in the middle of a busy suburban intersection? Encroaching on everyday lives, interrupting the wheels of progress and botching town-planning blueprints. Surely, they could find an open paddock, a section of scrubland outside the noise, tar, and exhaust fumes?
“Ugh, vermin everywhere, these days. I should report this to council,” says the shiny styled woman on her way to an afternoon function.
“Indeed,” agrees her tie-wearing husband as he fills his chest with sighs, tapping thick waiting fingers to the leather steering wheel.
But what are you doing here, in the middle of our grass plains? rabbit glances at their staring faces. Curls soft whiskered lip into a Darwinian sneer. Questions the bricks, bitumen, the endless concrete migration, and furless noses pressed to tempered glass.
Lights turn green and story stops. Maybe, little rabbit bounces off in the wrong direction, straight into the hot rolling rubber of a tonne of moving metal. Splat. Cockatoo and its mates flying the scene in a flurry of guilty beating wings. Or possibly, after a short show of chest thrusting, the little mammal and feisty avian both wander off to find their own patches. This story has no end. Minutes are not enough to extol the looping narrative of fur, skin, fuel, and feathers. Little rabbit and cockatoo fight over tiny receding patches until they’re not there anymore. Ripped from our field of vision and consciousness as we drive on to more and more destinations that deny them.
Kate Maxwell is a teacher and writer from Sydney. She’s been published and awarded in many Australian and International literary magazines. Her first poetry anthology, Never Good at Maths (IP Press) was published in 2021, and her second anthology (Ginninderra Press) will be forthcoming in 2023. Kate’s interests include film, wine, and sleeping. She can be found at https://kateswritingplace.com/