Soft leather presses
against moist palms
and your helmet, snug,
pushes against your eager face.
The metal beast sits dormant,
daring you to uncage him
and, as the small key slides in,
your heart palpitates and your mouth waters.
It roars to life, eager to shred
A low grumble, as a cat’s purr,
beckons you to sit atop its awaiting saddle.
Springs give, as it adjusts to your weight;
man and machine are now a single animal,
your arms grip its bars lightly
but the bond is not a light one.
And you jolt forward.
The machine swerves, bucks and thrashes,
a bull chasing some darting matador,
as you push and pull on its reins
and bend it to your will, or so it seems.
Your trust, and your sense of ineffability, builds.
Your legs grip tightly to its frame
and you feel its rumble deeper than the balls of your feet,
deeper even than your lungs, and your breath stutters.
You are far from any city, now.
Forests, watercolours of green and earthy brown
blur past a periphery to which you pay no heed;
instead, a circle of blindness opens up before you,
and you swivel, lean, shift your weight with the bike’s.
Yellow signs at the side indicate 30mph
but your trusty steed urges you on,
“that is only a suggestion,” it says,
“that is only the speed of mortals.”
The engine whines louder, and your elbows,
knees too, inch closer to the ground, almost touching,
and you think you will soon be airborne;
you expect to rise up into the cooling summer air.
For a moment, you are aware of your life in your mouth,
of the two milimeter-long squares of rubber gripping below,
aware of nature’s laws holding you atop your saddle
and how small a stone can upset that balance.
Your mind reveals to you a jumble of flailing
arms, shins, elbows, and knees
grasping at a sky that is helpless to stop you
and watches as you crash and roll into the trees.
But speed is impervious to your mind.
You race along, as a strong draft
through a long tunnel, unaware of the machine now,
only aware of your levitation above the earth
and not even thinking of how unlikely this all is.
But, to the machine’s disappointment,
you are, in fact, a man of flesh,
and that flesh begins to stiffen, tremble;
you are now no more than a passenger.
You are a castaway, blindfolded, on a runaway horse.
You must stop.