Biking Cades Cove

Biking Cades Cove, Tennessee, with My Husband, Seven Years Married

Last week, a man dislocated
both shoulders, bashed his head
on the asphalt loop that heaves
its hills through this settler’s valley.

The park road is blocked off, vacationing
bikers lined up for bikes rented by the hour,
with the duct-tape and split seam seats
of anything without a single owner,
never truly loved.

It isn’t the speed, but the curves
taken at such a speed,
the park volunteers warn us.

On the narrow road, we glide between
families, past cherry trees
ripped apart by black bears foraging,
past a church for each denomination.
When the hills grow too steep,
we walk them together.

Developers carved out the settler’s
cabins from their recesses in the forest
into the blonde grasses of the fields.
Floorboards are worn as stones.
Surrounding signs ask us to refrain
from carving our names.

The white clapboard Primitive Baptist
church hosts deer grazing in the modest
cemetery out back, stepping more elegant
than we do, ghosts among the markers.

from Threshing Floor (Jacar Press)

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