Blue-white needles frosted with summer rain squat fat and still over the roar. Every passing growl is a Doppler crescendo lifting away another earthling. One, maybe two. Each made the choice to ride. Every roar for days, hours into night, dawn into searing noon. The rumble approaches and retreats, again, approaches and retreats, again. Each one another one. Each one new. Each one here, each already gone.
This freeway usually crouches behind its soft noise, a wash becoming nothing. Surf without storm, wind over low dunes scoured clean of all breaks. It fades into air itself, hiding passage in the press of blank white. Ears become deaf by necessity or maybe laziness here on the other side of the sound wall, deaf to each human pressing on towards the singular objective of a fragment of day.
Now, here, these motorcycles demand attention. They are designed for notice. Each growl is a call to the hairs to rise, the jaw to stiffen, voice ready. Who’s that? What’s there? When is this?
Now, it is now, it grumbles, it rumbles. Another now, here it comes! There it goes. . . A neighbor, a choice, a journey, a calling.
A pleasure. A burn. A rebirth.
Coursing over the tarmac and weaving through white gashes, each in a pair, a pack, a battalion, or one lone rider. Glove and leather, denim and chrome. Each thunder roll is a choice to grip between thighs that saddled machine. To clutch at gears, to stay upright, to cling to blacktop while soaring up, past, through and away.
Who’s that? What’s there? Time, one moment.
When is this? Choice, forward motion, action, revolution.
Drive in, charge in, bite in and swallow the same air that churns out from belly, esophagus, throat, motor, rubber, grease, grit, sky. The growl is gulp and belch. It is breath and howl. This is another man’s life here, passing, gone. This is another woman’s ascent, crest, recede. Each a doppelganger in flag starred ink and road scarred steel.
The rumble barks.
Each single ticking humming second, each imperceptible sweep of the minute hand is one that only goes forward no matter how hard you press against the brakes and crank into reverse the resistant gears. You can’t erase the odometer, can’t fly backwards down the on-ramp and start again with open road.
You only have this stretch here, the one outside your window behind a spill of ivy and shattered glass, this low sun bleeding over the sound wall and carrying your stunted roar up to smash like shell, yolk, skull, and cry against the day’s vanishing light.
Image: Vladen Antonov, AFP/Getty in Huffington Post from the Memorial Day 2014 Rolling Thunder ride in Washington DC