Monday, January 23, 2012

Of Works, II

The Gears

One moment we’re riding our bike and the next we’re on our back, trying to figure out how the sky got down there. Nothing hurts, until we try to move, then everything hurts, so we lie on the ground until we can handle breathing again. We sit up and assess the damage: the front wheel of our bike is toast. It looks like a strangely stylized letter D. Thinking without thinking: Destruction. Dimwit. Derriere. We stand, heft the frame onto our back, and start walking home.

We’d been staring down, straight down, at the shadow of the gears on the ground, cast by the sun, animated by our legs. Chain dragged along by teeth, turned by our feet. A point of rotation: man/machine meet and work and flow into one another.

Go fast enough, you can’t tell them apart anymore.

We didn’t see the tree root, ancient, gnarled beyond belief.


Later, we’re in the tub, soaking our everything. Still thinking: Damp. Drown. We fall asleep in the water, near hot enough to burn, wake up when it's tepid. We dry and dress and go to the garage, and take another look at our bike. The chain has flown off the rings, the front wheel is a total loss. We get our tools, and unfasten the wheel, then pull off the tire. We hold the bent wheel and think: dismantled. Defaced. We set it aside and pull a spare off the wall, attach a new tube and tire, then start inflating it. As we work, our hands go through the motions without direction, and we think about the last thing we saw before the sky. A moment, frozen but fluid, where all we see is a shadow, chain and legs spinning together, running together. Our hands finish their work and the new wheel is on the bike. We slip the chain back onto the teeth of the sprocket, then spin the pedals backward while we soak the chain in oil. It dribbles off the chain in fat black drops, then clarifies, becomes amber rain. We wipe off the glut and run the chain through our hand, curved links blurring into one texture. We hit the garage door opener and clean off our hands with a rag while it slides up. The sun has nearly set. We take our bike onto the road and pedal madly, working the gears in a frenzy, take it almost to the top, then look to our right: the low sun casts our shadow onto a retaining wall, a solid surface for our speed, and we watch the gears whirl, just stare, our mind is blank, looking for that moment again, legs berserk. We feel like it's so close, almost tangible, ready for us to reach out and grab it—the wall comes to an abrupt end, and we squeeze the brakes hard, hard enough to leave a dirty black streak on the pavement. We turn around, get up to speed again, but the sun has set and we see nothing but concrete. We ride back to our garage, and as we pull in, we see the bent wheel on the floor. We think: Dismount. We pick the wheel up and hang it on the wall.
That's all for now.

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