The bicycle’s final journey, to the centre of the Earth

Abandoned bicycle

It was a gentle devouring to begin with. The abandoned bicycle was settled into the bed of leaves and twigs, and then caressed and entwined by grass, nettles, cobwebs, and questing finger-like branches. Soon it was covered, no longer part of the surface world, pulled millimetre by millimetre toward the earth by a slow, ineluctable force that could have been gravity or hunger. Its metal limbs punctured the topsoil, a necessary flesh wound, the first step of its descent, deconstruction, and digestion. Surface time slid into geological time as the bicycle passed from topsoil to alluvium, a journey of centimetres and decades. Then the passage through the chalk bedrock, a gentle scouring, form maintained. Then the real purging, the gradual dissolution as each stratum of the earth’s crust took its toll, a sequence of transits from one lithic ferryman to another. It was no longer a bicycle but a loose alliance of molecules, shedding atoms like sea-spray. And the heat as the once-bicycle approached the mantle…Is it thousands or tens of thousands of years since the absorption began? After the grinding of the crust the earth’s mantle is a superheated slide towards oblivion, the molecules prised apart and transmuted, matter returning to its primitive forms, a kind of planetary autophagy. And then the last stretch, into the liquid sea of the earth’s core where all is torrid motion and identity is lost, the kingdom of iron where bicycles are unknown.