the novices


The sidewalk is cracked; loose pebbles, blown
leaves and bits of glass scatter across the pavement.
I survey the path, noting where the tree lifts
the edge of concrete, where the path dips and hollows
I am nervous, but I want her to learn. I promised
to teach her, to ride a bike without training wheels.

I think back to how I learned and remember
my yellow schwinn, the wind hard against my face.
My father promised he wouldn’t let go, but he did
and when I fell, he said, do it again. My body
bruised when I hit the ground, and I learned how

to expect the blow, to fall and feel pain, to get up
again and again; I learned how to use my body
as a negligible thing, to hold back tears, dust off
dirt and blood; to ride alone, I learned the way
of father. But that is not the way of mother.

I want to protect her, I want to cushion the sidewalk
with soft moss, to hold on and not let go until
she is ready. I don’t want her to do it alone. I don’t
want her to learn from pain. I would take her every
hurt and hide it within myself, far from her heart.

I look into her face, so eager and trusting, as she
straps on her helmet, adjusts the pads on her knees,
climbs onto the bicycle, and rings the bell with joy.
She is ready to begin, only noticing the light breeze
of the wind on her skin, and that the sun, falling
onto her silver bell, shines brilliantly.


Happy Mother’s Day! xo


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