PUSHING MY BIKE UP CLEMENS HILL
by Bill Tremblay
It goes in stages: first Paige Hill
my legs like pistons through sludge
up past Sacred Heart cemetery
where afternoons vanish
cracking pig nuts under wild grape vines
draped over its limbs, my body arced
as the south bridge over the Quinebaug.
Clemens Hill is another stage
my legs are never in shape enough to conquer.
I push the blue Columbia bike
my uncle Bill gave me for my birthday
with a kringing bell, spritelier than the grave bongs
of Notre Dame’s bell tower. With a bike
I can go anywhere and be back for supper.
Near the crest, I stop to admire
the pastures’ yellow galaxy of dandelions.
Six milk cows lie carefree like girls at a picnic.
A silver milk truck grinds uphill.
The sky grows black as birches
peppered with crows who tilt their beaks,
making love-croaks as they squawk,
rehearsing for a Saturday cartoon show
where they chomp ears of corn
then snap their beaks back
with a ding like typewriters.
My brow cools.
Hail pops on tarmac, the sound of Gene Kelley
singin’, dancin’ in the rain, ka-lick, ka-lack,
ka-lickety klick, ka-lock, splash, splash, splash, splash!
The one beam of light breaking through is
Debbie Reynolds’ smile, the flash of her legs
as she spins in her pleated skirt and falls on the sofa
between Donald O’Connor and Kelley.
I sit under an oak and doze.
The trees are blue, the laurel purple.
The top of her bonnet is as tall as his jaw.
They stop, this couple, turn to each other,
fall like raindrops onto a carpet of leaves,
struggling with their clothes.
Her nipples rise against her chemise.
His pointer finger
traces her curves. She unbuttons
his trousers. She arcs toward him.
Something hot and wet speeds
like a nighthawk at the fork of my body.
A roar splits the sky.
I open my eyes, sure I’ll see God.
No, a Cessna banking toward the airport.
No one will know what happened
but my conscience will
if I examine it like St. Ignatius Loyola.
It must be a sin, this seizure
that bent a forest this way, then that, inside me.
Where is the girl God wants me to love?