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."
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 myselfI promised herthat 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. Toolssurgical instrumentslitter 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 anythingeven something as innocuous as an old bicyclecould 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.