Blacktail Deer Road
Gomez, Czelsi
/ Categories: Montana Poet Laureate

Blacktail Deer Road

Lowell Jaeger

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)

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