A shout upstairs of "Sharon, he's here!" and
Mary's back on the phone. Embarrassed, he
forgets to put the sidestand down, and when he
lets go to take his helmet off, the cycle ‑
and his dignity ‑ collapses into the chrysanthemums.
It's this ‑ and his venomous, vituperative
profanity "Oh bother!" ‑ that suddenly endears.
I laugh, and help him haul it up again.
He told me once: sixteen valves, water‑cooled,
with an 11‑to‑1 compression ratio
for optimum torque and power delivery.
Three hundred and ninety‑six pounds of mustang,
nostrils flaring, 500cc and steaming.
Bruised a bit now, but nothing irredeemable...
The numbers stick because they're exotic, marvelous,
mythological creatures I'd never met before!
But what catches in the heart, Sharon,
is that night you were two mysterious,
jacketed figures by that motorcycle, veiled outside
in darkness. Your mother had one hand
on the curtains, the other on the phone...
Then I recognised you. Through the scuffed visor
only your eyes and nose showed, like a
marmoset in the trees we saw at the zoo ‑
but I knew those laugh lines, the way your eyes
crinkled, and how the sharp bones of your cheeks,
your mother's bones, rose as you smiled. Helmet off,
and your hair flounced out, a magician's bouquet.
We dropped the curtains then. When you came in
we were already upstairs, in bed, the lights out.
Your voice seeped in under the crack of the door ‑
Round and round it goes, and nobody knows...
By morning your eyes were still undimmed,
and all through breakfast you and your mother
were exchanging paper airplane smiles.
And so, Sharon, there he is, ruffled, handsome.
The fact his leather jacket isn't rimmed with studs,
Black Sabbath patches, eagles, is good news.
Go on, tap dance, let him wait a little longer,
pace and cough. He'll know soon enough. I imagine you
riding pillion on the motorway, the wind in your faces,
the earth, as it were, moving beneath your feet.