William Doreski – Freewheeling – 5


by Wiliam Doreski

Bicycling downstream on back roads
from Walpole to Keene I feel
as supple as well-worn suede.
With grave ancient empathy
the brown hills flex in the breeze.
Brooks twinkle in gutters of stones.
The roads pour down through valleys
scraped by glaciers, smoothed by age
to resemble flesh folded on flesh
after acts of bristling love.

I remember everything: turtles
basking in the emerald marsh,
herons lancing the ooze for newts,
minnows shivering like chain mail.
That was the moment I became
the self that bicycles downhill
at terrible speed, lathering
shadows that surf across landscapes
with reckless but actual purpose.

I haven’t plied that marsh in decades;
but as I flash past wooden houses
that withhold their grim expressions
I free myself from scalded cities
and silt-encrusted suburbs 
of the adulthood I’ve never earned,
and let a single note fly.

No one hears me or cares if
I crash into a friendly boulder
dumped from an ice sheet ages
before I fully evolved. Knit
and purl of the last bird call
caresses the flight I’ve taken
from one lost town to another—
the roads left clutching their scripts
and the small uncharted places
fulfilled for one sunny moment
while tree frogs gather their breath.

William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.