The Epic Cycle, by Lanah Koelle
|October 31, 2019||By Natasha Bershadsky listed under Art swifter than the wind: on athletes and contests, CI Poetry Project||
Rage fuels the taut tendons
As he slays each pathetic competitor.
Past the dragging herd—
Ankles streaked with oil, raw knees,
Thighs like giant oars spearing the air—
He sails forth
A body cultivated and primed.
He rejects all costumes, every gear, the very idea of brakes.
In his arms, unrealized potential
Knuckles at ease, grazing the bars.
Watching the speeding silhouette I know,
He would rather die than be relegated to the sidewalk.
And who is this man?
No simple fool popping wheelies
At the height of his power
Careening past death
With a wink, a tinkling bell.
No ruts in the road
No nails or screws
No shards of glass
Puncture his promise.
Sirens may blare, but he is transfixed
In a balancing act
Face tilted to the heavens until
The intersection clears.
Asphalt burned a mottled scar into his thigh—
Proof of grit despite his tricks.
Now the ancient road warrior
Sinewy calves roped with olive veins
Forearms spattered with the mud of age
Paunch pressing against blinding polyesters
The number from some old race still pinned to his back.
He has been in the saddle so long
His feet have fused to their mounts.
Behind his craggy brow are thoughts of golf, but
This windbag still craves speed.
Now, these men of shining carbon fiber
Would be so delicious to crush
But I track easier prey—
Not the glamour girls, allergic to sweat
Draped in silk blouses, billowing skirts
Stilettos delicately clutched to the pedals
Nor the mothers, devoted to abundance
Forever towing unwieldy carriages with
Countless children, infinite bags
Not my sisters in arms, well-equipped
Alert to all signals with merciful prowess
Kindly braking for strays and wanderers
However impulsive or indisposed—
No, I seek the kings of mediocrity
Feed on insecurity, devour them whole
Raised up, ready to pounce
Cascades of gravel pelt them in my wake.
Look, a quaking amateur
His knees poking out like some bowlegged marionette
One puff and he is over.
Now here’s a cautious one—
Broad-shouldered, sculpted face, but
Domesticated and pitifully slow.
A hairy wrist peeking out from a plaid shirt
Gold ring on the fourth finger
So much to live for.
The next puts up a fight.
So much training, yet his spirit is weak.
I sigh hot breath on his miserable neck.
At the hill’s crest he anticipates victory
And in that mistaken moment of release
I slice past
Savoring the rush of domination.
Oh, but the one I want most
I will never get.
Chain singing, helmet forgotten
the chase is on.
A glance over my shoulder
Tasting the salt of exertion and
His blazing eyes lock with mine before he
Cuts me off
Before he cuts me