The Dream

Well, to start with, we were walking with friends.
Don’t ask me who; I’ve already forgotten.
But then, I find myself pedaling my old three-speed,
Sgt. Pepper. Not only that, I’m racing
against men more than half my age, going so fast
that everything is blurred. Whether ahead
or behind the pack doesn’t matter, the contest is
against decrepitude itself. I sense it
drafting behind me, a presence I cannot escape.
The other cyclists look like Halloween in
their logoed jerseys. My costume is street clothes.
No matter, the rest of me is feet, breath
and bike. Undeterred by curves, hills, or wind,
I’m twenty again. Passing the milestone,
the fear of that ghost behind me has evaporated.
Victorious, I sag back into my tired body.
Alive, I cherish every mile the years have put on.
And there you are again, by my side as
we enter a bar to meet our friends. No, I still
don’t remember their names. Besides,
we never reach their table. Suddenly, a cousin
I haven’t seen since childhood throws
himself at our feet. Heartbroken, he weeps and
flails, claiming his life is over
now that love has deserted him. Bending down,
angrily, I call him a fool. Surely he
must understand the gift each day presents us.
Then it occurs to me he is a specter, too.
Dead of cancer, he never did reach age thirty.

I woke to the sound of distant sirens.
Chilled, I’d kicked off every blanket pedaling.

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