[On your morning commute you could read a poem on the subway walls. Or you could ride your bike to work, then write your own poetry in motion. Make that a sestina. And as John Ashberry once said, writing sestinas is like riding a bicycle downhill and having the pedals push your feet.]
Light Wheels: A 10-Mile Sestina
5:30, and the window lets in light
From streetlamps, and the air
is barely blue, sharp-edged. Stretch
And find your way to shorts, unlock
your bike from where its wheels
Have climbed the walls all night, suspended.
The start is hard, suspended
Between sleep and work, but wind and light
Will fix that as you coast on wheels
That rattle lightly (get that checked). Breathe air.
Feel things clear. Look
Up to fill your eyes with space and stretch.
Don’t dawdle. Push. Race an empty stretch
Of wide gray early road. Suspend
Your fear of traffic crashes, brakes that lock.
You’re flying, focused, muscled, light,
Invincible and runny-nosed. Approach the bridge as air
Bends to let in sunlight, glittering on high-rise windows, on your wheels.
At this point, pause. Consider. You could be underground. The wheels
That sail could screech instead and darkly brake. The stretch
Could be to arch away from human smells. (Fresh air’s
An urban legend on the subway.) They could suspend
Your service, leave you nervous, blind and lightless.
You could be buried. Look,
Instead, you’re pushing up the bridge approach, legs unlocking,
And everything’s beneath you: the traffic rush and hum, your wheels,
The river, wide and pale with light,
The bridge’s solid flying stretch.
Above it, you, suspended–
As close as you can be to mid-air.
Arrive at work cold-nosed, with flying hair;
They won’t care. Lock
Your bike. There have been thefts. Suspend
Your helmet by your desk, a trophy or a scalp: Wheels
Brought me here, it says, but my own wheels. And stretch
At meetings, sure, but don’t be a jerk. Stretch lightly.
And regarding light, and air, and stretch:
Look, it comes again. For now, just know: the wheels, too, savor the suspense.
Micaela Blei is a teacher and writer who lives in Brooklyn and will soon celebrate her 10-year anniversary in NYC. She rides a KHS Flite 220 Flatbar.