I know the route by its scents-
Rosehip patches littering the shoulders, a talisman of tea in the season to come;
Sweet cut fields of clover and crabgrass tickling a delicious memory of childhood
and a throbbing sinus vacuum.
Poor dead skunk, the halfway marker, encouraging the push for home,
Warning us to look both ways.
Before the stand of pine embrace us with their shade-
A living, cooling cape of colonial majesty-
Until the Sugar Shack’s fryalator congratulates us at the finish,
Teasing our spent muscles and breath with the promise of clam-laced heart attacks.
This poem was conceived on an arduous 12 mile tandem ride with my husband several years ago in Charlestown, RI where we vacation every summer. The sensations were overwhelming enough for the fragments to form in my mind. Tandem cycling has become a spiritual act for me- an exercise in trust and partnership. The joint physical strain to achieve a common goal or destination evolves into an emotionally-charged experience of encouragement and support. We like to joke that it is cheap marriage therapy!