April 21, 2013
Blessing of the Bikes in Bean Blossom, Indiana

The preacher’s wife is half bucolic cliché and half dominatrix:

round and ruddy in a gingham check halter top, long and lean

legs in leather chaps, she fries eggs over an open fire, pours

Folger’s, flips pancakes, pats ham steaks as hickory ashes fly up,

settle in her hair. “Lord, bless these bikes,” her preacher man

of 27 years intones to his denim and leather-clad congregation.

 

Last night, we promenaded along the mud motorcycle runway

Celebrating the final Bean Blossom Boogie, billed as “The Midwest’s Best

Biker Fest.” Softails, pan heads, rumbling pipes glide by as artists design

10-point bucks and supine babes on gas tanks. The fat lady

with goggles rides in her old man’s sidecar. Two small-town

lawyers impeccably coordinate their leather gear and helmets to their bikes.

 

Rituals flourish like born again virgins and penitent addicts.

Bikers rub worry stones, coon tails, rabbit feet. Tobacco anoints

lips, sweat baptizes bodies, and the breeze intoxicates and forgives sins.

Some play at ancient pagan rites as the Bikers for Christ try to usurp

the spirituality of the road. “Loud pipes save lives” is our Hail Mary,

gaudy juxtapositions are our grace. Amen. See you next year again.

 

—Katerina Tsiopos Wills  (Bartholomew County + Brown County)

This poem appeared in And Know this Place, ed. Jenny Kander and C.E. Greer, (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011).

Katerina Tsiopos Wills has enjoyed reading her work to audiences in Café Trieste (San Francisco), the Indianapolis Museum of Art, StoneSong Arts Festival (Bloomington), Skokie Public Library (Skokie, IL), and venues in Thessalonica, Greece. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Motel, ART/LIFE, River Styx, Y-Bird, the Otherwise Room Anthology of Poetry, and two audio tapes from the New Linen Weave Poetry anthology series.

Indiana Humanities is posting a poem a day from Indiana poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.

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