Diane Kendig: “Ghost Bike”


Thanksgiving in New Orleans, we walk two miles

through Treme and less august neighborhoods

to the track for opening day at the races. We feast,

dressed up and dressed out, as they do in this city,

the formal hats, boas, the cravats, flats and spiked heels,

but too, the tennies, the bird hats with wings that flap.

Trussed like a pair of turkeys at the end of the trot,

we start the two miles back afterward, halfway,

we hit four lanes of traffic and run,

arrive at a white bike site, a corner where,

a local tells us, someone was killed. Someone loved,

she says, seeing the flowers, notes, the ribbons.

The bike’s not a white bike, really, but a bike

erased by white: white seat, handle bars, white

like an old man’s moustache, and the wheels,

two blurry communion wafers with their white spokes.

Hard to swallow. A ghost bike,

they’re called, the woman adds.

This Tennessee chef cooked years here, we find

when we look him up in the Picayune. “So many of my staff

depend on this way to travel,” says the restauranteur.

Fifty-one years old, mortally struck by a hit and run,

just like a meat cutter killed in August. The workers

pedal in before sunrise to feed us and whip around

these corners on their way home, late,

after everyone has eaten and left and left him

in their wake, here and not here.

Diane Kendig has published five poetry chapbooks, most recently Prison Terms and The Places We Find Ourselves, and she co-edited the tribute anthology, In the Company of Russell Atkins. For twenty years, she directed the writing program at The University of Findlay, including its prison writing program. Kendig has published poetry and prose in journals such as Ekphrasis, Under the Sun, and Blueline. Currently working on a bilingual book of poems about the Spanish painter, Maria Blanchard, Kendig curates the Cuyahoga County Public Library site, “Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry,” now with 4,000 readers.

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