SUNY Jefferson

Jockey on a Hill

Rachel Filkins
Jockey on a Hill

When she was a kid on her bike
she pretended in those summers to
ride. A jockey on her horse, standing
high in her seat, chasing the chickens
and ducks, crossing over that distance
they always wanted between them and her,
she would race around the garage, pretending
to be in the late charge in that final turn.

Many times, it was the Derby. With
chalk she marked the twenty thin, tiny stalls,
fitting them all across the pavement.
In her own position, she braced for the
break, a countdown in her head, waiting
for the call she’d have to give.

Many times, her bike was punched into
motion, speeding towards the backyard,
a broken branch serving as her whip,
till it got stuck in the wheels, always
chasing the animals, then blowing past
them all, trying to win the race, pretending
she was riding the favorite.

Years have passed, and the miles have gotten
so much longer. Biking the village, she
careens over the hills, down empty
sidewalks, pedaling under the trees.
Poised high in her seat, as though she
stood over a saddle. Her mind goes back,
back to being that child.

Down the hills that are steeper than ever,
gaining speed plus a shiver, the breeze
cuts past her cheeks, till upon another
climb she hits the top, then rising in her
stirrups, she pretends once more she’s just
a jockey on a hill.