A New Bicycle
Suddenly, in Houston, Texas,
which is a three-hour-flight from home, I was buying
a new bicycle from a salesman in a pale pink tie.
I’d not been up on a bike
for twenty-something years,
and I had no plans of doing anything to change that
but then there I was handing over my credit card
and looking down proudly
and taking in the bike’s gleaming newness.
That’s where I was – Houston – when my wife called
from wherever she was in the world.
She broke the news
that she couldn’t handle the deceit anymore,
followed by the news that she was having an affair
and, finally, the news that she was sorry
she’d not had the courage to have this conversation sooner.
It was then the bicycle store began winking at me
from across the street, the way shoe shops have winked
at her down through the years.
Maybe it was youth winking at me,
or innocence, or adventure, or youth
and innocence and adventure all together
winking at me then in the form of the shop.
That’s when I said we’d talk more
when we were both home. Calm as could be,
no ire in the voice that said the words,
a voice I didn’t recognise, a voice I’d taken
from the clammy breeze in Houston that day,
just for the speaking of them, and then returned.
I was miffed slightly. That was the whole extent of it.
That is the resilience of children, of course.
It’s when we get complicated we lose that
but I had it again, all of a sudden, inexplicably.
I was going to take my new bicycle out
onto some unmapped road
that winds through a dry and dusty landscape
beneath a friendly sun in a sky of blue and silence;
a road that would be heading away from her;
would end someplace good or, better still, not end.