By Marianne Boruch
On the bike path—boys
too big for their bikes, outgrowing them,
hunched over the handlebars,
silly above the shrink-down wheels.
And middle-aged guys, in their perfectly
stretched colors—red, bright yellow—
not a wrinkle in their
pitched-ahead pose on this new thing,
a cross between a racer
and a mountain bike.
But the boys,
they’re all over the place—no helmet, of course—
and their knees splay out, too long-legged
now for their little bikes. They squint.
They jumble up the path and love
their threat to me, coming at me,
careful not to see me.
And some of those men,
whatever day at the office
behind them, have no face at all.
Or do they? Only the dark
of their glasses, the jaw line
just so and distant. And maybe I’m just so
unfair. But I’m your age--I want to shout—
remember our pathetic-sweet
kindergarten class? We took naps. We drank
milk with a straw. And then what? Years
of burn and rage. And so—
how did you vote? I don’t even
want to know.
Here, these boys
with their bad lot: a bike too small?
A rousing so what! In summer’s
late afternoon. I believe
in telepathy. Don’t
go to this war, I think hard
as they pass.
YES LOVES NO
in its heart of hearts. Yes, so cheerful,
but looking for a little shade
in secret, i.e.: the underside
of a leaf is
pretty interesting, its veins
delicate, crossing and recrossing,
a silent, stark
busyness, as in who knew? as in
and all this time. Because Yes remembered
the way to the graveyard and loved
to give directions, loved even how
No kept not getting it, not turning right
at the first right or even the second, how No
got too drowsy to drive, and pulled over, Yes
smiling I understand, but saying
I would think grief
would keep you awake. Bright nail
in the coffin and all that?
No, said No, going invisible then: Yes isn’t
a bully, not really. Yes just wants
to get to the graveyard,
say certain things out loud, leave the potted marigolds
to the weather. Well, said Yes, at least it’s
not raining. So by the side
of that road rarely traveled, Yes and No
sat quietly together, a few
minutes, I think. I timed them: maybe
a whole half hour, the tree shrouding them, an oak,
huge and riddled with rot. Yes dozing too
but oddly, eyes open. How can you
sleep like that? No wanted to say, glancing
sideways, quick. And Yes,
looking straight ahead, loved
those doubtful kisses.