To the Man Riding a Bike on the Highway at Night
Side-to-side your body rocks, each pedal-stroke
a hyphen faintly red—feather-steps in dark—
I barely see you ride beside the cars.
The only lights—headlights and starlight and
houselights from the Washington side—you shoulder
night on your ride out the Columbia Gorge.
Without bike lights, between each pulse of cars and
semi-trucks and trains, the darkness presses you—
like growing up in towns too dry to grow.
Once a friend at daybreak rode this way. The sky—
a blue lid to cliff and river—she sped toward blue-green
distance, testing the body that tested her from birth.
Her laugh—the size of Beacon Rock—she lived a man most
of her life and a woman at her end. When a pickup struck,
her body turned to sack and bone, from flesh and force.
For her funeral the whole Gorge town turned out, forgave
the brother who tried to beat her into a boy—his apology
too late—and floated flowers down the Columbia.
Rider, what perches in your soul and drives you
into dark, under dark, beside the water-silent dark?
Can my song guide you through the strangest Sea?