After a photograph by Jesse Costa, WBUR
A trim, impatient breeze
lifts the lip of the plastic tarp.
Behind the tires of a half-turned tractor-trailer,
a young man’s sneakers are tipped
sideways on the street.
His laces flip in the wind.
Under a low-slung sun, the tarp glows white—
white as the lane markings
ringing the intersection,
white as the roof of the ambulance
idling on the median.
Cops spool yellow caution tape around light poles.
The wind pulls back the tarp
from a battered bicycle frame.
Lens caps hurled from his messenger bag
settle on a strip of asphalt unfamiliar with stillness.
Six blocks down Commonwealth Ave.,
a journalism dean chokes up into a microphone.
His grim news lands on a lecture hall of grad students
like a punch. Now wordless,
they will soon shatter into the shards
of tweets and Facebook posts,
will send their friend’s photography to the edges of the Internet,
will forward the obituary he penned for himself
as a class assignment
to the website where I read it at breakfast,
read it even as they are clustering votive candles
by the ghost bike they have fastened to a stop sign,
their scarves tossed by the wind that surely thrilled his downhill.
I finish my eggs and put on my helmet
to ride to work.
I recall that stop sign,
recall that intersection I too wheeled through,
and I think of the ghost bike—
flowers lodged in its rear rack,
a sheen of white spray paint,
a flash of white at the edge of the morning commute,
lost in the glare.