Dawn Promislow


What I wanted was to go on a bike ride. I wanted to ride behind you because you are faster and stronger, compared to me, who is weaker and slower. So I wanted to go on a path along the Humber River, it’s beautiful there — you know that. It’s a path that’s rough and stoned, and winding, and shaded. And long, it’s a long path, it runs along the riverside, along the river, which is wide and rocked, grey-rocked. And the trees overhang there, in celebration, and so I wanted to set off with you one hot summer’s day.

I’d see your legs and your arms and your back in front of me, and your bike, which is black, and I would follow you, behind you. I’d have to watch out for curves and turns in the path, on the dappled path, not too many curves, but some, because on the whole the river is flowing in one straight way, southwards, to the lake. But you’d be in front of me all the time that’s what I wanted, what I imagined.

We’d stop once in a while to have a drink, drink water, water water clear. We’d stop mainly because I would tire — not you, never you, never you tiring. And we’d drink, like animals, like animals I’ve seen in the wild at watersides in Africa, how patiently and slowly and deeply they drink, and our sweat would cool in the heat, we’d feel cooler as we drank and our sweat cooled.

And then we’d get back on the bikes, you on your black bike, and we’d carry on.

Sometimes on the way you’d call back to me, in your voice, which I loved, you’d tell me something or warn me about something I needed to know. And I’d call back to you, the way birds do, we’d be like birds then, flying.

And the dappled rustling trees overhanging, and the riverwater gurgling, and a bird watching, bead-black-eye, and a chipmunk darting, and the smell of sweat, my sweat, as we rode.

I’d follow and follow and follow your back ahead of me, fast still you’d go, and me, until the very end of the path, which is Lake Ontario, or beside Lake Ontario, far as the eye can see, but which is the end of the earth then, or the beginning.

But you didn’t want to go on a bike ride with me.

You wanted to stay away, weak and still, in a place I couldn’t follow you, where no path was.


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