Bicycle Messenger

A bicycle messenger races through
wet streets, bent over the handlebars,
athwart a racing saddle. Wind’s his
enemy, his friend. Cars pile up,
the lockstep of evening nears, he
twists through a corridor left open,
arrives at a flame-colored building.
He carries a document wrapped
in plastic against rain, up carpeted
stairs, into an elevator, a wall of glass
from which he can look down over
the entire city, boats turning restless
in the marina, trees canted toward
water, brick rowhouses. When the
bicycle messenger hands over the
document, a white-gloved man says,
You came too late. It would be better
you had not come at all. The bicycle
messenger lifts his racing goggles
to reveal a smooth face, a diabolical
look crouching in his pale eyes.
Nevertheless, he says, you’ll pay.

Claudia Buckholts has received Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the Grolier Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Minnesota Review, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and other journals and in two books, Bitterwater and Traveling Through the Body.