On a bicycle—and they rarely lie—down Martin Drove End
it seemed as if the Wiltshire Hills winked
as I rode past. Cradled w/in grassland waves
the lambs bleated me into Blake’s epigraph:
“Dost thou know who made thee …?” etc.
As I rode I knew that I’d record how one time
the sun was abruptly veiled and all went dark
like when I passed my hand over my father’s
eyes that last time. Then, just like that, a miracle:
a cloud passed on and my father was awake again
riding alongside. He said: “Do this with me ”
and then, he lifted his hand off the handle bars.
He quickly rode past me. I’d never catch up.
Last I saw of him was on the crest of the next hill.
He glanced over his shoulder to me and disappeared
downhill at break-all speed (Which was OK, being that he
was dead), with his hands up in the air, balancing
on a human hair’s width of track, of eye-blink.
Meanwhile the slope too steep to pedal,
I walked my bicycle, pulse and breath one,
nigh on passed out. This musta’ been a mirage
or maybe I had dreamt it as I blinked, as I exhaled
when sunlight had sluiced the waving Cow Parsley
that had flowered on the west bank of hedgerows
on Martin Drove End: cupped country lane which is
canopied by beech trees, strong shouldered and arched
over my labored way. Time plays tricks there.
Here you are made atemporal. Rendered unborn.
Maybe a radiator leak in a five-ton Yank truck or a
hosed wheelwright who had skimped on a yew axle
that broke, or hippy lovers who fell off the Yamaha.
All whom traveled this lane were sure of their way.
“All travel has the element of faith in it!”
I heard my father yell in perfect Cuban glee
coasting down the other side of that Wiltshire hill
which I had pistoned-pedalled all morning to raise.
Come to think about it, it may not have been he.
What if it were only me, myself, only much older—
a tease, a phantom recorded on a loop?
Once used, a road is informed by its traveler,
but especially in Wiltshire’s at the edge of Empire.
–Chaz Mena, The Little Coach House, Tidpit, Wiltshire, UK, 2019