Frank X Walker

I Dedicate This Ride

Isaac Murphy
When I come barreling down the stretch, I always think
about my daddy, a runaway slave turned soldier.
At the start of every race, I pretend he’s in the crowd,
standing at attention, watching me ride for the first time,
his brass belt buckle gleaming like his proud mouth.
I tell myself, I don’t dare lose that this race is for the union,
for all ex-slaves who joined up, who stole away with their families.
Those fathers showed us what real men do, taught us about sacrifice,
dug trenches, carried supplies and ate a whole lot of rebel bullets
just so they could keep the freedom they hungered so much for.
Just so their children could dream. So I could ride horses and enjoy
true quiet and these visits with him in the middle of all this noise.

Frank X Walker
“I Dedicate This Ride” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).