after Matthew Zapruder
Tonight in New York City the plane trees lose
their pigeons. The park empties at dusk, and
all the strange artists scratching their Moleskins
keep their heads down, lifting them only to watch
the man softly cracking locks from the bike racks.
I’m remembering my first bike, which was yellow.
I cried for it until it was bought for me, and as
my grandmother watched me pedal down to the bay
for the first time, she told my father: I could kill you.
When you see someone picking locks, you never know
how to act. Or where ideas like that even come from—
why some people steal bikes and others keep stealing
away, never revealing their destination or reporting back.
My second bike was silver, sturdy, built for tricks I could
never perform. I loved the pegs bolted to the back wheel,
standing on them like wings and sailing downhill,
eyes shut, kissing some quick and nameless thing.
That immortal feeling. In 1982, some leaves
gathered on a path in Prospect Park and my father’s
tires slipped on them. This is all he ever remembered
about that month of his life. Thirty years later, the bike
became my third bike. I chained it to a rack one summer
and it vanished by the fall. If my body ever leaves me,
let it leave with that sudden grace. Let me call my son
and tell him See you soon, then tip down an infinite hill
and leave him listening to the sound of many grey wings,
knowing he’ll never see them, watching until he does.
Nathaniel Lanman lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY.