bike poem

"In my late 20s I learned..."

    something I could have
                should have
                      might have wanted to learn
                      when I was a small child

except that Dad died.

The bike came the year
I stopped believing in Santa
which was because of the bike
which could not have possibly
fit down the chimney.

The bike: I couldn't quite
      get the hang of it
despite his efforts

and then he died.
He died and Mom couldn't
      help me learn either.

So the bike went in the garage
until it was too small.

Besides, no one bikes in LA in the 80s anyway.

All through my middle 20s
C. wanted me to learn
        how to ride a bicycle.

When we met he had the
         John Deere tractor green bike
that he rode on those steep
         Tacoma hills.

Except when 
         I came through the park
         to his apartment
         and we walked to work together.

That was how everyone knew
         we were a thing, us walking
together, him with the hand-painted green bike.

He tried to take me bike shopping.
I was terrified of being 
that far off the ground
         and of moving at a speed
          faster than walking.

Looking out the window
of my first office, first real 
grown-up profession,
and he's on the phone
explaining how, no -- really--
I have to see this bike
               it's totally different
       from all the other times --
       five -- six -- seven years of
               "you should get a bike."

But really -- it is different.

The bike is different,
        the shape of it isn't so scary
                and maybe by then
        I'm different too.

Because I get on and after
a wobbly how-do-I-start-this moment
I'm moving and pedaling
         and somehow the whole thing 
       stays up and is a sort of 
           miracle not unlike flying.