By James Arthur
On a rainy morning in the worst year
of my life, as icy eyelets shelled the street,
I shared a tremor with a Doberman
leashed to a post. We two were all the world
until a bicyclist shot by, riding
like a backward birth, feet-first,
in level, gentle ease, with the season’s hard breath
between his teeth. The rain was almost ice, the sky
mild and pale. I saw a milk carton bobbing by
on a stream of melting sleet.
A bicyclist. A bicyclist. He rode away—
to his home, I guess. I went home,
where I undressed, left my jacket
where it fell, went straight to bed, and slept
for two days straight. But those clicking wheels
kept clicking in my head, and though
I can’t say why, I felt not only not myself,
but that I’d never been … that I
was that man I hardly saw, hurling myself
into the blast, and that everything
I passed—dog, rain, cold, the other guy—
I left in my wake, like afterbirth.
James Arthur is the author of “Charms Against Lightning,” a debut poetry collection published by Copper Canyon Press in October. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry, a residency at the Amy Clampitt House and a Discovery/The Nation Prize.
Photo by Sean Hill.