Compound Right-Hander (Scapula, Acromion)

Friday after
work (is that important?) peeling
off 680 onto Calaveras, heading eastward
to the hills.

road, use at your own
risk, subject to closure]

The sun is at my back, my shadows
are long and pale. The hills
are upon me.

Four-way stop, the last
before the ranches (I smell horses, ahead),
the Country Club, the County Park,
the two-room school. White Ford pick-up
just ahead of me turns off right, loses
little polygons of treadmud. I
choose a line between them,

accelerate smoothly, shift
smoothly first
to second, second to third, unnecessarily, but
I like the sound of the triple
just above idle, tonight. I like

taking this part of the baseroad like a
lazy taxidancer, keeping my bodymotion
spare and smooth, I like
lifting my visor a thumbcrack, to breathe
the sagegrass, to breathe the wild thyme. The hills are
beneath me, the hills are
surrounding me, the hills are rising tall
before me.

Creep the revs up, still in third, around the
final bend of the two-lane (I

am alone, I am alone here) blip
the throttle, down-shift, matching revs to groundspeed,
crouch down, breathe, breathe, check
the mirrors, then

sharp left at the unmarked T, onto the one-lane
carved from the hills, open the throttle (slowly --
and slowly, in return, she creeps up to
coming on the pipes, shyly, she
begins to sing), accellerate
and climb the hill, but patient and smooth, to draw
out this moment of first song, to carry this singing
through the first bend, through the second, past the crest
of the hill. Ahead

are groves of live oak, folded hillsides, the blue of the
reservoir below. Shadows are long, the sun is in my
eyes and then it is not in my eyes and then it is
in my eyes again. I shift
from shadow, to light, from uphill to down.
I choose my lines;
I trace them. A pebble (shift my weight).
A squirrel (move my body left). A dead
snake, thin as a bootlace (I would have
left it alive). Like yesterday:

I came across a tarantula the size of my hand, in the hills --
black velvet legs, grey velvet body (black eyes, shiny black eyes),
black velvet abdomen that raised up high when I
cupped this beautiful spider in my leather gloves and carried it
from roadway to safe haven. I leaned
against the bike (exhaust pipes ticking
as they cooled) and watched this cautious spider creep away
among the oak leaves, over stones. I looked out
over the valley,
to the reservoir.

Up ahead, now,
the second compound right-hander, tight, five miles in,
the best fifteen to go. Begin high,

a blind left-hander (quick
check coming out -- the road ahead
sweeps right for half a mile, empty, still) then
head downhill, snaking left, right, left, right (take her
up to nearly six grand; she is singing, now, loud and strong,
singing for joy) snap

the throttle shut (she gasps and breathes in, deep and resonant)
shift my weight forward, shift my body down,
hang low, inboard, choose
my line and breathe and breathe and
find my line and find my lean and find my radius -- this

geometry, this motion, this sound, the balance of these forces
(I can feel the deformation of the rubber on the fat, sticky tires,
I can feel the rubber start to flow -- it is a quiet, dead feeling, like making

a mark on a headstone with a piece of wax) and this feeling
creeps its way into my right hand. At the bottom

of this first, perfect, sweeping, tight right-hander
I make her sing again,
for a moment, and I breathe as she exhales -- five grand, or
so, in second, a little too

fast for the sharp right-hander ahead. I back off, and brake:
front, back, balanced, just a bit too light -- sudden, sharp rise
(shocks compress my chest hits the tank)
and hard, hard right (the line is inches from the inner edge, and
I am wide by nearly a foot) and at the crest of the sudden rise:

negative camber
a dusting of sand
a road heading right
a cliff face of scree and dust and stones rising, rising.

The throttle is shut. I brake
at the edge of friction, front
and back, but we are nearly weightless, cresting the rise.
I lean over, far inboard, and aim for the place where the road
meets the wall of rocks; my vector summation
is slightly imperfect. There is sufficient time for two comments,
spoken out loud; I am compelled to narrate. We


broadside, inelastically. There is
the small, muffled sound of a tight, strong, beautiful machine
being tested on dirt and rock. There is the clear, bright, familiar
sound of
a snap.

We do not go down. The braking kicks in; both wheels begin to
snowplow through dust and scree, but we do not
go down. We hit outcrops of dirt and rock once, twice, maybe
three times
and then we stop.

She is idling in neutral, lying against the cliff face. I turn off
the ignition. I am covered in fine red dust. I am standing,
alone in the hills, breathing deep and fast, feeling
just a little faint. I lie down, for a moment,
in the dust and the scree, beside her.

Blue exhaust pipes shimmer and tick as they cool.

JDP 98/08

Copyright John D Porter © 1998

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