814. The Bicyclist, by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Crossing a bridge in our VW bus
In Stratford-on-Avon, you swerved but grazed
A skinny man riding a bicycle.
God! Was he mad! You pulled off to the side
Beyond the bridge, and he came after us
Shouting, Police! and pedaling furiously
In his black suit. You stood by the bus
As he pulled up and flailed at his kickstand
And rained vituperation on your head.
You quietly cut through his narrative,
"Are you all right?" your face kindly and wry.

Through the bus window I saw the moment when
He first saw you, first looked you in the eye.
He straightened up. His hands moved fast
To straighten his bow tie. Well, yes, he supposed
That he was fine. You asked more questions, asked
So quietly I couldn't hear, but I could see
His more emphatically respectful answers
As he began to nod in affirmation
Of all you said. Then he smiled, sort of,
Offering his hand, and when he pedaled off
He waved and shouted, Thank you very much!

That's what you were like—you could sideswipe
A bow-tied Englishman wobbling across
A narrow bridge on his collapsible bike,
And inspire him, somehow, to thank you for it.

Source: Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992

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