Thursday, July 19, 2007

in the road

Riding my bike down the middle of Island Avenue, swerving from one side to the other across the yellow line, was an unequalled joy. The road was completely empty, and nearly sunk in the blackness of massive maples reaching across it, blotting out the evening sky and muffling the street lamps.

To be master of a road is to race down it in a Chevy Chevette, burly sound billowing into the wind. To be master of the road means submitting to its logic and its power, which is: straightness. And speed. Cutting like a knife through space.

To swing across the yellow line side to side on a bike is to change the road into something else. A place for swooping in the dark like a swallow. A swallow with hairy legs and a bike. Not a master of the road, but a fool toying with it in the absence of other users.

To be a fool is to ignore the rules -- but only as long as the road is unoccupied. To be a fool does not mean to be so thick skinned one ignores the demands of the efficient machine (see "the awkwardness of intersections") and its functioning. It only means to long for cessation, for a breathing out, for a break in a power that does not know how to stop.

Oh, bike and road, swerve and dark. May you be so until the end of the world!

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