Tour de France

Skinny men stuff newspapers against their chests, insulation for the freezing French mountain air, their bicycles soaring down steep roads through tucked away villages. Calf muscles pulsate for days on end, wheels moving past wheels, a colorful trained stampede of lungs pumping, faces grimacing, as fans run half-naked among the cavalcade. Alpe d’Huez, La Rosiere, through the Alps, the Pyrenees, they ride wary, ready to attack, counter attack, slurping energy goos in pursuit of the yellow jersey.

I first watched with old men in Madrid, we gathered around the hotel’s black and white TV. 1989 and I barely knew what France was; Voltaire, World War II, my parents listening to Edith Piaf, not much more. I became captivated, not by the mass of the peloton, but by the lone rider, the one who would pedal ahead of the pack, desperate, confident, like a rogue gust of wind pushing a kite to fly. Some days he’d be caught, reeled in, but other days he’d escape, stay free, win the race. I imagined that he was me, fearful, fearless.

Flamenco At Home

wooden guitar, Paco de Lucia flat on a screen
the bitten apple underneath his frozen image
Iberian music partially fills the house

without speakers he is far from me
sitting at the center of our victorian
the dining room table, my desk where words appear
between my son belting out songs he learns from
tv, while my daughter talks about the dog
we’ve decided to have join our chaos
our domestic bliss

before baths and bedtime
they swirl and nip like moths chewing sweaters
devouring dusky light
energy wanes, finally they take the stairs up

I stand barefoot, wooden floorboards warm my toes
in Sloane’s room, above the oven
where the chocolate chip cookies were
just baking

I stare at her snow globe collection
Capri, Virginia, Asheville, The Nutcracker
Alexa playing songs that I don’t know

almost 30 years ago it was
TWA, me on a plane to Madrid from JFK
before I knew his name, before the Moors
and Hemingway, before phones in pockets

his voice, his Algeciras
dead 4 years now, wikipedia tells me

the cassette I bought that summer
a rectangle of non-compostable plastic
sitting in landfill somewhere

the house is quiet now
only black where he once was
sleeping children, the wind outside blowing leaves
like memories trying to take flight