The Carriage Road

by David Roderick

David Roderick

When autumn turned
the trees and there was nothing
left to do but rake their musk,
I'd bike along a carriage road
beyond the place we called town.

I went slow down the road's listening
so images still came through:
a tractor idle in a field,
its silence held
in the empty hood of my jacket.

Then instep, foothold, and sprocket
while an old stone wall rolled past,
a hundred cracks for an eye
or the sight of a gun.
I thought a man owned

that land and knew what it needed.
Some trees were tied with ribbons,
planned takedowns
by a forester I'd never seen.
An awful smell blew up

from the scutch,
something along the lines of vetch
or the torpor of swampgas.
I'd heard about a teen who was hurt
on that road while testing

the limits of his mini-bike,
his back broken
on an odd paradox of sand.
But no markers or ghosts,
just fire in my legs as I pedaled

through the scent of the trash trees.
Puddles riddled the road.
My path a collage of leaves.
And though I had no idea
I was a burden to that place,

a noise in the center of its sleep,
I was beginning to learn
that inanimate things have
a consciousness, that a tree remembers
its birth in a basin of peat.

Last updated March 30, 2023