This afternoon, I went for a ride on the Venice boardwalk. The light was beautiful, and there was an electric energy in the crowds packing the sidewalks. I kicked myself for not bringing my camera. I wrote the following as soon as I got home – to capture the moment in words, rather than pictures.
underneath V-E-N-I-C-E, suspended carnival-like above their heads.
Passing the magic threshold, onto the boardwalk, modern day hucksters, break dancers pumping, thrilling the crowd.
They weave through teenagers and dog walkers, cleaving through the tourists,
who dart down and up, down and around, restless then stopping, gathering then dropping
back into the terrain of the concrete-lined bowls.
Pushing off again, in the chill of the falling sun, their own needs calling, they ride on.
It’s the countdown before Sunday sunset, when the beehive surges, desperate to slow time till bed,
till Monday toil, till Monday books.
A hum of activity; their bikes slicing through its heart.
They glide through the crowds, serpentining, on the concrete path.
Past the throbbing beats of the Sunday evening drum circle, the open air music of the half packed bars,
smoothie joints and smoking joints, their pungent grassy odor giving way to the taste of salt.
Pushing faster around the sand-dusted curves, to spy the soles of a little girl’s feet, flashing as she walks
the undulating crown of a waist-high wall like a solemn tightrope walker at a circus matinee.
The sign on the ice cream store door says: Sorry, we are sold out.
An ice cream shortage in January; the collective madness of a warm winter Sunday.
And then, a gleeful face and waving curl of tail bounding beside them. It’s a slim black dog,
his paws, throwing up puffs of sand, leaving cries of “Seely come! Seely come back!” in their wake.
They’re given a grin, before he ducks back into the parking lot to steal a tennis ball from an unsuspecting boy.
Pedaling faster, pedaling forward, pedaling always. The tourists, snapping sunset, blur by.
Out on the beach, the ocean nobly silhouettes the head and shoulders of the people,
and in a sudden optical illusion, appears ready to swallow them whole in the froth of the wave tossed above their heads.
Pink fingers of clouds, their edges curling to orange, beckon the riders on.
The wire baskets rattle, spokes clicking, their knuckles numb against the self-created wind on the handlebars.
Pedaling forwards, always towards, the strongman flying on the rings.
Towards the ferris wheel, perched on the pier, a neon purple spiderweb spinning through the sky.