Saving Summer

Prose is so cliché. Here’s what I hammered out as soon as i returned from my ride this afternoon. Disclaimer: I’m no poet. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Ivan put summer out the backporch yesterdayAnd panic slipped right in the front, like it does every September.There was only one appropriate responseI unleashed my bike and threw on my gearAnd started peddling from shadows into sunlight into shadowsParker sent me off on a new courseRock Creek Park, Boat House, K StreetAnd yes! Capitol Crescent TrailMy front tire devoured the asphalt for 11 miles northLike I hadn’t seen it do for a yearGliding fast and smooth while my shades divertedThe wind I createdAll of us accelerating to slow the week-end—Stollers, roller-blades, sneakers, bikes.Soaking up the end of Sunday isn’t easy.

The rolling streams, somehow protected from the cityUnite us frenzied escapees, the Sunday rollers. Our secret. A brown Potomac, we see you. The faster I peddle, the darker it gets. Why is everyone retreating?Entering Prince George’s CountyThe markers do the counting for me.Mile 3 (smooth pavement)Mile 2.5 (hard dirt)Mile 2 (gravel now) In a dark wood. Mile 1.5 (More gravel.) Deserted industrial park.Mile 1. Dumped into open road. Finish.Finish? Where am I? Why so dark?”Take the East-West highway. That way, young man.”Thanks, okay, I’ll make it okay.Just don’t get hit. Can the cars even see me?That guy is going to shoot me.But my shirt is red—How will they know that I’m bleeding to death?Wait, isn’t that—? Good.Wisconsin Ave. Go.The cars whiz by. I’m free.Gliding through the nightThose poor saps in their cars, Ha!Go left here. I’ll get to Reno?I start to trust the road beneath me, perhaps falsely,But I have no choice.Faster now.My racing mind pumps adrenalineTo feed the adventure fantasies morphing in my headAnd on the roadBecause I can. I stand, climb this necessary hillAnd the lactic acid smacks meI thank the sky for something so realAnd laugh in wonder at my subway life.Then I look in your passing windowI see the flickering glow of your TV, Keeping you safe inside?The darkness is my cape. And it’s quiet now.Save for the grasshoppers chanting,Unmoved by the thwap-thwap-thwapof my humming wheels.My chain begins to squeal.Or maybe it’s a refrain—Where can I get some oil

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