My husband is on the exercise bike unwanted by its previous owner, given with purposeful good riddance. An elephant left from another past yet treasured by my love. He's clocking off more notches than the weather forecast or the latest batch of Covid numbers. Keeping fit in days of isolation, he's pedalling away those draping cobwebs needing our attention. Scattered papers on the desk. Unread volumes on the shelves and rumbles of an empty train outside like thunder― when the sky becomes the lyrebird of disquiet. An ingenious contraption for body-mind connection is assembled near the handle grips. The music stand that holds his phones and tablet brings smiles of amusement from friends and admiration for resourcefulness― a further use given to this gift that's not a gift. My husband is pedalling faster and faster. His eyes are on that Facebook Page graced by Billy Collins, as if impossible to leave poems that for now, erase disaster. I wait with impatience. My turn won't start till Billy's final cadence.
Contextual Essay: Doctors tell us that fresh air and exercise is essential for a healthy mind. Recently storms and floods swept across our state, drowning daily walks and augmenting the misery of COVID. Cast off by its previous owner, I never appreciated the exercise bike in our study. It was always a nuisance and a dust catcher for me. I was surprised when my husband set it up to serve a dual purpose, never dreaming that I’d be able to pedal away the continuing winter gloom while travelling into Billy’s living room. Sometimes gratitude takes a while to settle in.
Hazel Hall is a widely published Canberra poet and musicologist. Recent collections include Step By Step: Tai Chi Meditations (Picaro Poets 2018), Moonlight over the Siding (Interactive Press 2019), Severed Web (Picaro Poets 2020) and a verse play for radio Please Add Your Signature and Date it Here (Litoria Press 2021). Hazel’s sonnet collection A Hint of Rosemary is forthcoming. When Covid safe she coordinates Poetry at Manning Clark House in Canberra, A.C.T.