RIDING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE

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Submitted Date 08/09/2019
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Riding At The Bottom Of The Lake
Age 36, Jordan Dam, North Carolina, 1980
Jordan Dam was completed but the lake was not filled for several years due to a lawsuit.
A Honda Dream was a small street bike (305cc) which could also be used as a dirt bike if the conditions were right.

-- This is one poem, from my autobiographical series of poems, that I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my Stories section for others. They are in chronological order. --

On my 15-year-old Honda Dream
I revved the bike's engine and sped 10 miles
down the bottom of this lake
yet to be filled -
along an overgrown paved road
that lead to leveled towns
and dug up graves

These fall afternoons
I brushed aside flowering yellow bushes
reaching across the highway
and rode over tar
broken by shallow streams

From my college study of years before
I knew turns
that lead to abandoned towns:
Bear Creek, Seaforth and Farrington

With practice I learned to see
where stores, mills and houses had stood -
often an outline of trees
that enclosed invisible buildings -
or a driveway that ended at a ripped out foundation

It was like the joy of listening to a sad song
I was remembering what I had lost:
my mother who had died,
and my home in the country
taken for another lake project
where I had lived with my first wife
before our divorce

I had the valley to myself -
startled quail flew ahead of the bike
cool air with pollen hit my face
and I imagined the lake with water
covering me to the red clay hills
boats skimming the surface

After an hour,
I leaned my bike next to
an old oak
and walked the grounds
of scattered bricks
sensing the layout
of a moved farmhouse
of the well and barns;
then I reclined on my seat
imagining
the rough truck engine,
the clucking hens,
the smell of tobacco curing

But when the sun's shadows
began to climb the banks
I knew I had stayed too long;
with painted lines no longer
there to guide me
I fled following my dim headlights
looking for the first new bridge
that crossed the imagined lake

Gunning my small motorcycle like a dirt bike
I climbed a steep hill up to a guard rail
and followed along until I found a break
onto newly paved highway

Below me the lake faded into blackness
and an hour later I was back
back to my new house in the city
back to my new girlfriend -
and I was home

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