Stooping, my fingers in the earth,
I turned at their approach
riding hard up the street:
not joy-riding in the slanting sun,
but leaning hunched over handle bars,
peddling hard and in a line.
Coaster bikes whisked past,
catching air and scattering light
in spinning cages of metal spokes.
At each revolution, wheel reflectors
flashed in the afternoon sun,
but in a moment they had past
my plot where I, digging,
rooted up the fibers of plants,
old nails, and forgotten things,
like one fall day decades past:
stooping, my fingers in moist sand,
I dug trenches in the pile
hulking Georgian red in the setting sun.
Our bikes lay forgotten in the grass,
beside the base-ball diamond, vacant then,
blades poke up between the spokes.
At the crown of the mound stood a boy
packing the sand with his shoes.
He cast a black arm shadow
reachinhg to the horizon on blood stained grass,
the red sun framing his head in a fiery halo.
Over my trenching hands
spread his shadow. His packing feet
stopped before me with implicit threat.
I watched one show draw back
and toe the sand, toying with the possibility
of a swift kick, of flying grains.
The sun dripped red paint and war
over his shoulder, caught his black eyes in shadow
and lit his ears into blood-veined wings.
A hammer strike.
Glass stars searing into my eyes,
swift up and down, his foot sent sand.
Falling back, I gasped with pain.
My hands found moist, cool sand.
The sharp edged stone crept into my hand.
It was moments before he let out a cry,
struck despite my sun-bright blindness.
A hive of bees and that stone I had let fly.
with stinging sand to open a dark red kiss
above his eye, to bring out a blood-tongue
that dissolved and lapped down his face.
I staggered away as if it was I who had been struck.
Still he stood there, in surprise,
raising a howl with bloodied hands.
I straddled my bike and peddled hard,
hunched over handle-bars, dragging air,
spikes scattering slanting fall light.