I am an inventory of pain,
a jalopy like the litany that dotted our backyard
and filled my father’s garage, half rust but
wholly filled with good intention.
I pull on navy coveralls, apply grease here and there,
replace a part, jerry-rig, kluge, duct tape it all and keep going.
I once tied a muffler onto my VW van with a dog leash.
I once used a wheelchair, a walker, a cane. I once used
a wrist brace with a crank on it, a medieval device, yes,
but I used it. I will try anything to keep it all going.
One doctor said, We keep shooting you with cortisone
until it doesn’t work anymore. One said, I can replace that.
One said, It’s about your pain threshold.
Threshold is a funny word. I’ve installed thresholds,
sometimes so poorly I had to periodically pound
the nails back in. I’m not good at entrances.
I once had a screw removed
from the side of my thigh. And then One said, I wouldn’t do that,
and running hills in the park is over
just like that. I search for something else that is moving
without drudgery, that is exercise hidden in joy.
If I stop moving, I am positive the grass will rise up
through my rusty frame until you can no longer see me.
I pull my bike out of the garage.
It’s been neglected for ten years. I check brakes, fill tires.
Six miles later I submerge my hands in a bucket
filled with ice water. I am a tinkerer in a long line of tinkerers.
I change the seat, the stem, I change the handlebars
three times. My wife speeds ahead, hunched over an old ten speed
and I suffer. There is no other way to say it. I am about to give up
on the bike idea. Banana seat fantasies evaporate.
And then I find the Pleasure Cruiser, matte black, low slung,
wide tires. I practically pray before I swing my leg over
and take it for a test drive. Please please please.
The Pleasure Cruiser is part Seventies Caddie, like steering a boat
and part Muscle car, all swagger, deep throat.
It looks badass but has the soul of a Barcalounger. Ten miles
later there is no ice water, there is no planning of tweaks
or tests or changes. There is just this:
Oh, beautiful street cruiser, I promise to honor you.
I pull out of the garage, once again fixed up and turned loose.