Country lanes and old films -
Margaret Rutherford pedalling intensely,
Face screwed up, hat rammed on her head;
The Wicked Witch of the West, in her Kansas persona,
With Toto, kidnapped!
Then there's Jeanne Moreau, sweeping downhill in a spiral
(With Jules and Jim of course)
And all those stiff-upper-lipped ladies,
Managing, while the men are away at the War.
It's historic, this bike, so black, so sit-up-and-beg
That it fills my head with other people's images.
Mine would be a battered boy's bike
Passed down from a brother
(I inherited his shorts as well)
And a mother who, somehow, was always indoors
Struggling to master an old Triplex cooker
Or salting runner-beans in a big crock
Or bottling plums.
I could never have managed the way she did
But I wish sometimes
That she had had a bike like this
And gone with us to speed around the lanes,
Whizzing down the hills with her feet off the pedals,
Laughing, and carefree, and young again.
Back to Index