In Absentia

There are so many white bicycles
adjacent to Albuquerque roads—
two-wheel descansos for the crumpled departed—
that I consider giving up
my favorite mode of transportation.

Regularly there are fresh flowers
posted in the spokes
or tied to the handlebars.
I never see anyone tending these memorials
as I glide by on my way from way down there
to way up there.

Is it family members or riding community members
who tend the memorials?

Is there a church of bicycling?

I often wonder, how much farther
did the riders have to go?

Often, I feel the need to complete their journeys.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Descansos are roadside memorials. They are common in New Mexico to mark the scene of an auto accident that took the life of a love one. One that I pass by regularly in Albuquerque, has been tended for the twelve years I have lived here. The descansos for bicyclists are usually a bicycle frame painted white with flowers and special items attached to the frame. In my regular ten mile bicycle loop to Flying Star cafe, I pass two of them.

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