Rots and Bones
As we bicycled from Spring Arbor, to Howell, MI, I noticed a significant difference between rural Michigan and ex-urban Chicagoland. There are way, way, way more dead deer on the sides of the roads. Or, for that matter, way more deer in general.
The Metts, the family I live with outside of Spring Arbor, have numerous encounters with these naive, white-tailed creatures. Cars and people have been hit, hurt, and even jumped on by deer.
Theillalogical Spoon has a song or two featuring lyrics of a deer standing in the post-industrial rubble of Jackson (Prison City).
I haven’t hit one with a car, and I hope that I never do. I’ve only been in the car twice when roadkill has been hit- well, three, really. The first time was after Cady’s birthday party in 2005, driving home with her mom and a group of people. We hit a possum in the brown truck. The second time was with Pilgrim, at night. I think we hit a squirrel. I honestly don’t remember what it was. It was dark out, and now that I think about it, I’m kind of unsure as to why the little rodent would be on the road. The third time was with Valerie, on the way home from Chattanooga, TN.
On a bicycle, the garbage and waste of the information age becomes apparent.
Garbage sticks out of the grass and litters the ground with paper and the air with dirty smells.
Crushed bodies rot, with flies, ravens, and vultures looking for something to live off.
You notice whether a hill is slightly uphill or slightly downhill.
Edward Abbey, a radical conservationist of sorts said in his book Desert Solitaire, “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
Suddenly, before you know it, U-Haul trucks, mini-vans, station wagons, seem like monsters on the road, throwing out garbage and killing the animals of the land.
With a tandem bicycle, people seem a lot more excited to see us, but less excited to take in the land around them. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on some poetry for Creative Writing. One poem compared a bicycle, child-like world to the chaotic, four-wheeled adult life. The other is from the perspective of the deer.
I’ve been around younger children quite a bit the last few days, and the thought of parenting, and balancing has been bouncing around in my head. This particular poem is a reaction to a child who raced Valerie and I through Jackson, Michigan on his little BMX bike. His mom watched from across the parking lot.
Eight, Long, Metered Years
It’s been eight long requited years for this-
to ride two wheels and wait for the white man walking.
Mom told me no, mom told me no, not yet,
Don’t cross alone, don’t ride alone, for now
Adjust the brakes, wear a helmet, alright?
When you’re a teen, you’ll learn to drive again
you’ll trade the wheels of two and make them four
you’ll forget wind and rain and shine and snow
It frees the burden of weather and of God
But when the gas price rises, there’ll be hell,
for walkers, bikers, unicyclers cease.
The way of future, croaking, stroking, no.