Test Ride

That sunny day last summer
when we got back from hospital
I watched you from the kitchen
as you fetched your bike
for a test ride up the garden.

You loved to cycle,
pedalled almost every day,
rode everywhere whatever the weather,
your yellow cape flapping round you
like a great butterfly in the rain.

You used to ride at quite a lick
when we went on tours;
half the time I only saw your back,
and you would stop and wait for me
smiling a greeting when I caught you up.

We did those sea-to-sea trips,
like Cumbria to Northumbria,
riding the length of Hadrian’s Wall
as the wind whipped us
like a centurian flogging deserters.

Today you say you’re well enough
to get back on the saddle;
I watch you straddle the bike,
and then push off ’
as on countless times before.

But you wobble to a stop,
droop over the handlebars,
and slowly shake your head
as you realise the truth
and I rush out to hold you.