CAB RIDE, PARIS
Boys on the sidewalk, young men really, walking their bikes
one hand on the crossbar. Casual. As if the bikes were wolfhounds.
Yesterday’s early snow, an extra curb between sidewalk
and street, framing the solemnity of the single file. Thunder
snow, it’s called: Weather’s sudden shift lit up like revelation.
Because the cab pulls away, I don’t see them lean
their bikes against a shop, and one after another, walk in.
Or, at the end of the block, mount their bikes, ride off.
In another time, the four of them—before
a reviewing stand—sat erect in their saddles,
their head-gear stowed, hair to their shoulders.
Or, they walked at the horses’ heads—a hand on
the bridle strap—leaving the arena, the games done.
In this or that century, I’ve seen them up close.
Dark, non-committal eyes—their interest off
somewhere else—acknowledging my glance
with a nod. Courtesy, as practised as a sword arm.
Their kind have fused will and body, an infant discipline
they’re born to. But I have—in my time—held them,
lulled them, breathed the talcum of their sleeping,
knowing even then they’d be slipping from me. Sons,
I say, to the darkening cab, be as you are—ages becoming—
the world a backdrop to your inscrutable bearing.
From Alongside (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013) by Anne Compton