Wednesday 12 February 2020

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer: Idyll 6

The track is in a doze. The asphalt softly gleams.
No cyclists yet in sight. It’s cold out there. It seems
that climbing even in bad weather is a cinch.
They fear the swift descent – it’s that which makes them flinch.
To crave a woman is an uphill climb. It serves
you best to stick close to her wheel in nifty curves.
You gladly take upon yourself her mortal fear
until the final lap’s hoarse rasping bell you hear.
Bad bulges, brace yourself. The beer sticks in their throat.
You hit the shit. But what the hell, monsieur, you note 
that many come a cropper on the final bend.
Don’t take the lead too soon. The moment’s now, my friend.
Stay calm’s your motto. Such a chance won’t reappear.
We’ll be right back. Commercial. ‘Trouble sleeping? Smear
the now restored cream manually in her eyes
until she cries. Then for a night make sure it dries.
You sleep well meanwhile and you dream just as of old.’
I dream of wreaths, of laps of honour and of gold
what blinds posterity like backlight’s blazing stings.
For taking part makes sense alone for one who wins.
Prize money’s always there somewhere for one to win.
But where the race will be that is, just to begin,
not always indicated. Unknown starting place,
a secret route, arrival still unnamed. You race –
it’s not the finish, just a sprint that’s mid-étape.
You shout just like a birthday child, but need a   map.
That instant, though, there is a razor break-away.
They fire straight from your arse. You stand and stay.
‘You’ve missed the crucial break. A higher gear for pace,
your new reserves, though, end in a potato chase –
between freebooters and the bad wolf you are caught.
an endless lonely grave that no one for you sought
but you. That’s where you’ll die. No one will shout your name.
An unseen deed of valour seldom brings one fame.
You plod on through the cobbles. Has the route been changed?
That turn was wrong – has the whole pack become deranged?
Are you the only one who’s taken the right way?
Where is the finish? Where’s the bird with the bouquet?
The people are all cheering by the other track.
You don’t bow down to no one. Arch your aching back.
On the tough grit of your clenched teeth the great knife gleams –
they bite the salty rubber of your tyres’ hot seams.
You never have been anywhere as near far out.
It’s not the loneliness you feared would cause a rout.
She was a quiet friend and seldom dull or drear.
Nor were you scared the unexpected might appear.
You grieved if there was drizzle, but not at eruptions.
You’re your own head man, have no subjects with instructions
to care for you. Your water bearer is a threat,
for with her soft, pink, velvet navel string she’s set
on stroking, sighing, hauling you right off your course.
You steer anew. Her tears a punishment enforce
for all of your old dreams. Her sleep’s the task you’ve found,
to calm her endless moaning you’re in honour bound.
You often all night long just have to let her dry
until reproaches briefly do not fill her eye.
New finish places you now code in manually,
accessible and nice for a whole family.
The leader turns to slave, but that’s not really much
of a great problem. Just a contest seen as such
where you, though in her service, would have much to gain,
if you could just recall where to begin again
and where the Kwaremont, the Wood of Arenberg,
the Wall of Geraardsbergen were, the Koppenberg
and where on earth the whole caboodle had begun.
The one who knew the finish would long since have won.
The track is in a doze. The asphalt softly gleams.
The last lap bell has clanged. We start to climb, it seems
with way too heavy gear, up from the final glasses.
Aren’t we amazed now by a single thing that passes?
My thoughts fly over hedges into each ravine.
And finals in the rain ride over mines unseen.
A viewer has a question: Why did I not mention
what the result was. And you think that’s worth attention?
Annulled as always. As result one cannot pass
what replays show was just an infinite surplace.

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