Blacktail Deer Road
Never mind my knees burned, bone against bone,
after the first hard-earned hundred miles, pedaling
from early hint of sunrise till nearly dark,
parched and exhausted. Never mind
the grit in my teeth when dust-devils rose
and tore through rolling hills of sage, blasting me
sideways. Never mind the late summer sun
blistering my shoulders and thighs, rivulets of sweat
pooling in my ears, my neck sticky with brine.
Middle of that first night,
I woke with a full moon, my tent aglow,
hips stiff against the rubble.
Struggled to unzip
my bedroll and step outside to pee. Stood marveling
at the stars. Felt strangely at home …
a gypsy, maybe, glimpsing the road continuously
unfolding. Couldn’t have guessed the strain
and ecstasy next morning cresting Red Rock Pass …
how aspen groves fluttered goosebumps up my spine.
How, gleefully, ragged cinders spit beneath my tread.
Half way to Yellowstone, how I’d finally ditch
my head’s constant jabber. How I’d muscle the crank
as if the bike were pedaling me. Never mind,
never mind, a breeze hushed across fractured canyon walls,
as in a distant meadow, a scatter of antelope
lifted their heads to look at me and wonder.
– Previously printed in Earth-blood & Star-shine (Shabda Press, 2018)