October 22, 2017
Cyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday; Dead Weight; A Wake-Up Call
Poetry by Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed
Cyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday
Sausage-skinned glutes and
candy colored helmets skimmer
past my wobbling wheels.
I feel no kinship —while mass
and gravity teeter
on the hard fulcrum of my seat,
the pros knife past shouting
“On your left!”,
an FYI, not imperative but
no less martial.
A moment of suspense:
at the towers all are forced
to slow down by the crowds
and the cyclists become
dragonflies among the reeds,
flitting in iridescent colors
around the bellows of families
holding hands, circling blocks
of people awe-struck stock still
in the viewing bays, held fast
by tiny boats skittering
across the blue below until,
peeling off, they whiz
and whir away, darting across the bay
in a blur, torso pressed to handlebars,
all hard, fast intent, passing past.
This is my flesh. I strain the seams
of your belief, bursting your corseting
standard of beauty. I disappoint you.
Larger than life, you will not make room
for the corpulent joy of me, but sharpen
your laughter to drive through me like spears.
My being weighs heavily on your secret fears.
I stalk your nightmares wearing your face.
Each year the fad slices another inch
from the holocaust silhouette of perfection,
but I will not disappear for your sake.
Your famine-struck idols are dizzy on their pedestals,
bleating condescension. Your starving, snarling
gym-hounds are baying for blood,
but the thin person inside me screaming for rescue
has your voice, not mine.
I swallow life whole and spit the pips at you.
I have let myself go and it is glorious.
A Wake-Up Call
Your ringing pain tears us
from sleep's loving arms.
A voice crackles over the line,
evil tones of half-heard sorrow.
The receiver clicks like a trigger
and your shoulders close around you
like a stone slab.
My fingers try to grasp you back
from your cold tomb
but your shirt is a dead thing in my hand.
Clutching the sheet, I dangle
over the widening chasm of minutes,
my mouth full of rocks.
You look at me and somewhere I hear the sharp
crack of ice and suddenly you coil
around me, under me, through me and we're falling
breathlessly in a heavy musk of ether,
wrapping the bone-dry night in a warm, dark rush.
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