local_library The Cyclist

by Carol Alexander

Published in Issue No. 278 ~ July, 2020

Body—its cloudy streams, fat and muscle cells,

electricity pinging taut membranes. An egg pricked at mid-cycle,

sweat glands marbling the skin, everything working ingeniously.


Then the cyclist flies over the handlebars in an impossible arc.

We ring around the brink of breath, her new mothers, there’s no helmet,

imagine a chalk outline, drying flowers. If motion, how imperceptible—


tiny hammers striking in the red chamber,

in the wristlet of veins, wind through hair stiffened with ice.

Through the vestiges of ruin, we see that she is unspeakably young.


Blood garlands the fragile skull, hematoma in cold aspic,

blood having a type cross-matched with leaf-strewn soil.

The untethered bike lies forlorn, an exhausted horse that stumbled in the wet.


Can we share out suffering, the smashup of creation, fix this human machine,

touch what can’t be touched, sympathetic pulse, blur of images under eyelids,

each limb still responsive, barely, to the sun of consciousness.


How to penetrate autumn’s fullness down to the rumoring roots,

burial of so much, a waste-weed mulch. Some of us will wander far from

tangled wires, fluorescent vigilance, the excruciating return to self.


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Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Environments (Dos Madres Press), Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press) and the chapbook Bridal Veil Falls (Flutter Press.) Alexander's poems appear in anthologies and in journals such as Aji, The American Journal of Poetry, The Canary, Chiron Review, The Common, Cumberland River Review, Denver Quarterly, Hamilton Stone Review, One, Poetrybay, Southern Humanities Review, Sweet Tree Review, The New Verse News, The Seattle Review of Books and Third Wednesday. New work is forthcoming in Pangyrus and Raintown Review.