Signal

Two long skinny rows of cars
one going west, one east
push the air, it folds,
tires swish. I’m exposed
on two wheels, I feel the air.

We wait for the light to change
your arm hangs out the window
and I watch you drop
a little piece of something you held,
covertly, as if to hide it from the driver
or anyone who might be watching
as if I were undercover,
a bicycle cop, and the fine for littering,
suddenly enforced, might be a price
too much to pay, but the risk is one
you’ll take, carefully.

Why should this bit, this small strip of purple nothing
flutter to the street instead of to the floor at your feet?
What bird will find something other than death by eating it?
The purple bit will fade in the sun, be run over again and again.
Blow to the curb, be washed into the gutter, join a river.

I am sure you were furtive when you dropped it.
What was it? A piece of cloth, torn from your dress?
A bandaid, a purple strip of paper with a secret inscribed?
You’ve been kidnapped and you’re leaving
a trail in the desperate hope
that someone will follow and find you.

You work for the CIA, you’re a spy
you think I am your contact.
The signal conveyed, I should go to the drop site
and pick up the latest code, I will decipher
the message, uncover betrayal.

I think of this too late,
You’re already far down the road.
I’ll never be able to give you a sign,
to let you know that I am not your confederate.
It was a dropped signal in the dark, anyway.
One you never expected to complete.

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