Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ulster Pastoral

Stepping out into coolwet morning air, unlock the bike,
tighten my knapsack straps, my breath trailing behind me.
Out onto the street and up, muted clicking of the chain through derailleur,
the rapid bump of tire-nub and the rush of passing cars.
Up the long hill, my legs pumping, warming,
through the town and up, deep breaths and up,
this long slow hill and all my muscles humming;
then, leveling out, and a slow glide across the overpass,
the breeze climbing down my shirt, my jacket flapping.
Over my shoulder, the ridge reclines, bluegreen and wrapped in fog, not quite awake.
Ahead, rolling foothills and low curling mist easing through the treetops, soft puffs of smoke.
The wheel crunches on the shoulder, ploughing through gravel.
Garlic mustard and wild onion sweeten the air. Robins alight in meadows
hopping and pecking. Occasional rabbits
panic and freeze, panic and freeze.
The hawks watch and wheel, waiting for the sun to break through and warm their wings.
Skirting the edges of culverts, the sluggish seep of runoff nourishing mallows and lilies,
the lime carpet of algae rimmed with froth,
the shale piles in thousands of weathered arrowpoints, mounds of slategrey cloven rock,
my legs moving up and down, up and down in tight circles, breathing in time.
Leaning barns with quiet ghosts and rough rust-red tractors watch over fields lain fallow,
The deer flick their tails and dip their heads down as I pass;
Heading east, the sun is a vague corona above the trees;
it pushes through the clouds, guiding me upward,

© jrs

No comments: