Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fata Morgana...

There were cathedrals falling out of your eyes
And your arms were the handlebars
I held in an abbreviated dream of crushed petals
Strewn across the limpid avenues.

I said, “I have poems for you”
But my words were lost in the wind.
I said, “I love you"
And you drifted into sleep.

And so I said nothing and rode you in and out of the rooms
Where we had stretched the boundaries of the soul
Like an endless sheet
And I felt you waking up between my legs.

Noelle Kocot, "The Bicycle Poem"

"The beauty myth moves for men as a mirage; its power lies in its ever-receding nature. When the gap is closed, the lover embraces only his own disillusion."
—Herman Melville

Disillusion? Naw. Too harsh. Not even disappointment. When it's not there, accept it, adapt, move on. That, or die of melancholy. And really, what kind of a choice is that?

Wait, we're talking bikes here, right?

Sunday evening I came upon an abandoned bicycle in the underground parking lot of a government building in Clarendon. A Motobecane Super Mirage, to be exact, circa late 70s. A dark little number, a faded beauty, une reine sombre de la France, to use the appropriate language. Despite a kickstand protruding from her belly, she was leaning awkwardly against a support column, half-propped up on spavined tires that had long ago given in to decay. It was clear that she had been jilted.

Slowly I approached her, eyed her for size, for fit, noted her French pedigree, sensed an air of quiet confidence about her, as if she knew her dumpster destiny would be denied, that reprieve was imminent, that she would be rescued soon. I was being manipulated, and I played into it deeply, willingly. It was not the first time.

I promised myself—I promised her—that if, upon my return that evening, she should linger there still, in that clammy catacomb, I would take her in, I would accept Fate's bounty, she would be mine.

She kept her part of the bargain,1 and I kept mine. Excited, I took her home. But in the days that followed, distracted by quotidian trifles, I put her down for a while, let her slip from my mind like a siren's promise. Until I began to forget what she looked like...

Now, this evening, I find myself standing in my yard on a grimy tarp spread out on the grass like a pauper's blanket. Tools—surgical instruments—litter its plastic surface. My hands are spotted (and Hell is murkier still). Nearby, a sweating bottle of Old Rasputin, lone witness, breathes silently in the dusk air, half empty.

What went wrong?

The sun is shining down with infinite clemency, but a sinister coldness stains the edges of a spring day that is giving in easily like a drunken lover to the lure of the night. At my feet lies her torso, rigid and cold. Around me, placed with the precision of a pathologist, are her many ravaged parts. Gone are my dreams of restoring her intact. I am no great re-animator, no bokor; the blood of Shelley's der gute doktor2 runs not in my veins. She will live again, true. She will even begin to enjoy life anew. But in a different form; reborn like a steely Phoenix. We will tour the city streets together, she and I, for what age and abuse and neglect have wrought upon her fragile frame, I have sought to fix.3

1. That anything—even something as innocuous as an old bicycle—could remain unmolested longer than 10 minutes in the basement garage of a federal government building in this age of rampant paranoia and xenophobia is truly mind-boggling.
2. Alas, Wikipedia is quick to point out that Victor Frankenstein, as conceived by Mary Shelley (and in contradiction of the characterization in the eponymous 1931 classic film) was, in fact, not a doctor at all but a college drop-out with a cool idea and a ton of drive. Ah, the useful things one learns upon making a casual reference.
3. Paraphobics take note: all innuendos in this post should be taken with tongue in cheek.


reverend dick said...

Beautiful post.

Icon O. Classt said...

Thanks, rd. Yeah, Ol' Raspy does the trick every time.

Rob said...

whatever the end result, you seem inspired- wow!

d & l said...

ahh this post makes me miss one of my former road-fix conversions, also a super mirage. motobecanes always had high-quality paint, the glossy finish lasts forever compared to other bikes of their era. mine was a brilliant rust orange with a maroon headtube. included with all the peculiar threadings- swiss BB, french HS (22.0 quill), french pedal threads. i still have some of the components but the frame has left the building.

Todd said...

Wow, posts like this make me wish I had paid more attention in English and Literature classes. Beautifully written and truly inspiring.

Marrock said...

Well.. finding my Moto wasn't quite that dramatic since all I did wass answer a craigslist ad in the free section, but the feeling was the same when I rolled up to the curb and saw the bikes being offered.

I was a bit luckier in my find though, IMO, since all I had to do was put air in the tires and ride.

Brilliant post, makes my own efforts seem lacking.

Dkeg said...

So you are the one who stoled my bike. You make it sound so nice maybe I won't press charges.