Cycles / ian gregory strachan

I. Guadeloupe Rider
.
a teenager on a trail bike
in orange shorts
in Point-a-Pitre
doing wheelies in the street
not rushed at all
a leisurely pace
a red bike too small for his frame
with little effort he raises the front wheel
and makes the iron pony walk on its hind legs
the length of the block
a born showman
then he circles, pleased perhaps or not
and performs the feat again
this time making a Renault Elf wait
until he’s done, here, in the 2 o’clock sun
in Point-a-Pitre

.

II. A Bike for Christmas
.
See me Christmas morning on the new bike
a Playboy
deep sparkling blue
stars and ocean mixed

going faster than I ever had
moving by my own strength
faster faster
black boy blue bike
peddling churning hurtling
the wind in my ears
the sun and trees cheering
as if Christmas morning
was my day not the Lord’s

boys possess such bravery
and such blindness
but I did see the sand in the road. I did.
I just didn’t know what it meant.

.

III. Havana Scooter
.
Make a stone skip across a pond
And you have what looks like the Caribbean
The points the stone hits
Ripple into islands

Just so we live
Apart and together
Divided by our sounds
Sharing the same land
the same rocks, peaks,
Water covering the valleys between

This is what I thought
When I saw him
A boy, a brown boy, with black curly hair
On a Havana street,
pushing himself along with one leg
The other balancing on wood and wheels
Pushing himself and pushing me too
A younger me
A boy in Nassau
Laughing in the sun
In days of mango and guava
Coconut and plum
Sea grape and almond
He and I born on the same rock
Divided by water
By years
By sounds
He and I riding wooden scooters
Pushing ourselves along
Feet touching tarmac
Like a stone touches water
Rippling islands

•••

Ian Gregory Strachan is the author of several plays, including No Seeds in Babylon, Fatal Passage, and Diary of Souls. His other works include the novel God’s Angry Babies, the academic treatise Paradise and Plantation: Tourism and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean, and the documentary Show Me Your Motion.

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