Mountain Bikers in the Trenches

by Jennifer Burville-Riley

Heads down boys! Here they come again
the bold army of young men in bright helmets
coursing down our nettled lane to jump
the training trenches we dug a wild lifetime ago
where first we bore arms, played fight or die.
They fly across our history carving it afresh
with the sure spin of new wheels.

Heads down boys! Spokes tear through bramble,
leaves crackle like distant fire, tyres plough
the living earth. Do they sense our blood
raging and hungry in their bright young veins
or are we whisperless ghosts, fallen figures of
bleached Somme scenes, faceless names
on stone-sombre monuments?

Heads down boys! They rise and fall and rise again
cresting and plummeting trenches in waves
green as rolling seas with dead mens’ bones
in forgotten depths. Shouts and laughter bounce
from reproachful trees. Whizz down Sandy Lane
to the girls, ditch your bikes against promenade rails,
hurl stones, share chips, taste the ocean’s fear.