“The pure joy of daily living becomes impacted
with the blood of fate and battles.
There’s no turning back the man says,
the one waiting to take tickets at the top
of the gangplank. Still, in the past
we could always wait a little. Indeed,
we are waiting now.”
~ John Ashbery, “More Feedback”
There are times when I ride my bike,
when I am climbing a big, long hill
that I worry that I’m not going to make it.
Well, it’s not like I’m going to die in my tracks,
but I worry that other people on the road
are looking at me and snickering.
I worry that they can hear me huffing and puffing
like the big bad wolf trying to knock down
a grinning pig’s brick house.
I wonder how slow a bike can progress,
as the pedals become harder and harder to turn,
before the rider loses her balance and tips over.
There is no shame quite like the shame
of having to walk your bike up a hill,
while other bicyclists ride by.
So far, the walking hasn’t happened.
Instead, I keep going, as the muscles in my thighs
burn and earn their keep.
I actually enjoy the burn and ache in my legs.
I’m comforted in knowing there still are muscles
buried under the skin of these old legs.
Better yet, they are willing to perform and do as I ask
Even when what I ask sometimes feels like too much.
It means I’m not dead yet.
It means I’m not yet so old
that this thing I love, cycling
It means I can still challenge myself.
And even if I’m breathing hard,
I’m still breathing.
And there are dreams that next time,
it will get easier
because I’ve tried and keep on trying.
That trying and doing and repeating,
So far, means more
than the number of years that have passed.
And by this point
I’m no longer talking about bicycling
I’m talking about life