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Rosalind Easton: a poem

Girl as Bike

The stethoscope answered in fluent Italian:

not a heartbeat, but the humming cadence

of a Campagnolo crankset. My father understood,

painted white lines around my cot, wrapped

childhood injuries in handlebar tape.

The moon's Anglepoise picked out

my race geometry: one knee raised, fists

loosely clenched, hands small enough

to forge tiny bikes from stretched-out paperclips

and roll them round a fruit-bowl velodrome.

In my teens, x-rays confirmed bones

of hollow carbon, ball bearings in the joints,

sinews and ligaments of fine steel cable.

So when I had to try four wheels and an engine

I kept energy bars in the glovebox,

insisted on an open sunroof in heavy rain.

My instructor asked Why are you leaning

into the bends? I told him if I couldn't sling it

over my shoulder and jog up a flight

of stone steps in Milan or Barcelona,

it wasn't for me. I sold the car,

spent the cash on seven kilos of hollow carbon,

the fluent Italian of a Campagnolo crankset,

tattooed an oily chainprint inside my right calf.

This poem is from Rosalind's award-winning pamphlet, Black Mascara (Waterproof), published by The Poetry Business in February 2021. You can find it here.


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