Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Smart Ride: A Poem

Two years ago, I participated in the Smart Ride, which is a 165 mile bike ride from Miami to Key West. It raises money for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. It was a very challenging experience for me because I'd never done something that physical or athletic before. It was also challenging because I had to raise quite a bit of money. I met these challenges and had an experience that I'll always look back on in a positive light. I wrote about my Smart Ride experience on my blog afterwards. You can read that post here.

This past weekend was the tenth Smart Ride (I did the 8th). I wasn't able to do it this year, but I was asked to write a poem for the opening ceremony of the ride. This was yet another challenge. I'd never written a poem for an event, so there were very different concerns that I had to consider when constructing this poem. I wasn't there to share in the moment, but I'm glad my poem was. This year's ride raised a record amount of $1,047,514. This is truly amazing and I congratulate everyone who road, helped with the ride, or donated.

Since the ride is over, I thought I would share my Smart Ride poem here on my blog. Here it is:

Adaption: A Poem for Smart Ride 10

Yesterday we moved through rooms
of the lost. Swam through stale air.
The windows sealed shut. The dishes
moldy in the sink. The knick-knacks
wearing thick coats of dust. Books
half read. Magazines flapped open
to smiling celebrities, gossip columns,
and more bad news. Rooms interrupted,
abandoned, unfinished. Left as evidence
that it can all change.

Today we move through open spaces.
Air deep in lungs. Salt in the breeze.
Down our spines. Across our foreheads.
We ride for miles toward the sea
where life and death meet in crashing
waves. Today we claim the named
and the unnamed. A history that is ours.
Not forgotten. In the Florida air
we feel bound by only this moment.
By the pavement beneath spinning feet.
By the power of the mind. For this
is not about the body.

Tomorrow we’ll move through our own
rooms full of the artifacts of the living.
Our own existence. Our lives simply
on pause. We’ll clean dishes. Wipe dust
from shelves. Pick up open books.
Watch the news. Make love. Eat takeout.
Yet everything will be a little different.
Might burn a little brighter. And at night,
with bodies sore, we’ll find a bit of sand
still stuck to our skin. Small grains
we’ll rub between fingers, reminding
ourselves of how easily we adapt.  

-Stephen (Proud)

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