—Saturday, February 27th, 36 degrees

The four-item dryer load spins through
a few quarters in Waynesville’s
only laundromat. Wool socks and
shoe inserts stick to the hot metal drum,
centrifugal force and cold Little Miami
River water holding them in place.

A barefoot man, alone, sits on a stool,
unwrapping his Subway, the bicycle parked
against the counter.

After ignoring pylons and the high
water sign, he ducked under the hilltop
backhoe blocking the road and pedaled
through swollen river overflow. Six inches
of current, wide as a valley,
flooded the low fields.

To thaw his stiffened knuckles
he puts down his lunch, walks to the dryer
on the cool cement floor, puts hands
on the warm glass circle and stares
into the dark, whirling vortex.

He loses a minute—or maybe a year—there
looking through its depths. There was a world
at the other end of the appliance portal
in which he almost believed.

During the 25 mile ride home
he will pass more farm fields—dirt-brown,
ready-to-turn—flecked with grey
remains of the harvest’s corn stalks,
edged by barren trees. For months,
winter’s sky has fit Ohio like an overcast
skullcap, stretched too thin
to keep out the icy wind.

about the author
Fred Kirchner has published a chapbook, Platform of an Unacknowledged World Legislator (Main Street Rag), and his poetry has also appeared in several anthologies—most notably, The Art of Bicycling: A Treasury of Poems (Breakaway Books). He is overjoyed that his cycling poetry’s in the same book as a poem by Marco Pantani, the last man to win the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year. Marco “Il Pirata” Pantani was one of the greatest climbers in cycling history—racing up the steepest alpine roads in Europe. Fred can make it to the top of Thruston Rd. hill in Oakwood.