SPONTANEOUS BUNGEE JUMP IN SWITZERLAND
by Cassie Burkhardt
Twenty-six years old. Pink cutoffs. Barefoot. Day trip to Lugano with friends when we see a sign with an arrow: James Bond Golden Eye Cliff Jump. No one else wants to do it, but I do, so we hop in the VW Golf, make our way up to the tiptop. My husband can’t even look out the window. Rocks, some jagged, others smooth as elephant backs, peek from glacial water, turquoise but stop-your-heart cold. Twenty minutes later, I’m poised, arms to a T, toes on the very edge, ready to dive headfirst off a pirate’s plank on the lip of a dam so thin it’s like a giant grin in free-floating space above the world and 720 feet of sheer vertical concrete down. Someone counts. One. Two. Three. I let out a primal scream and dive off the face of it. It’s horrible. My heart is in my tonsils. I’m eating wind. Cheeks liquid, I’m dying. Nothing to save me from glacial rock death but a bungee on my ankle, when one millisecond later an incredible lightness rinses over me because I am not dying, I am flying. Slow and fast at the same time. I am a delicate female body, so light, like an earring, a charm dropped into the abyss. A heartbeat, hair, breath, a flash of pink fringe in the sky. I am unburdened and intensely me. Edgeless, boundless, elastic me. The bungee bounces me up and down like a human yo-yo. I twirl up on the rebound, plummet again, knowing now what to expect, relishing it, breathing into it, adding style even. How quickly I can adapt to my new lifestyle as a bird! I point my toes, flex my wrists, eyes wide open, wingspan stretched to its fullest capacity, and I am calm, I am found, I am high on the purest rush amidst rock and river and sky, and so I quickly exhale all the sadness pent up inside me, every drop of it as fast as I can until I am empty, watch it fall like a lint pebble from my shorts into the deep goodbye before they call, OK, it’s over! and reel me up.
Cassie Burkhardt lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three small children. She teaches kids yoga in schools and is a long-time student of The Writers Studio, started in New York by Philip Schultz. She writes poems and flash, and she is working on a collection. This is her first publication.
Cover design by Karen Rile