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The Girl Gets Back on the Bike

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1.
Freedom is what it offers you,
after so many years locked away
in the shiny red shell of a car
without a name.
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When do you stop
naming your cars anyway?
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Oh. When they stop having personalities,
because they are
so perfect and smooth
that they don’t need personalities
or brains. They have automatic windows,
instant gears, black bumpers like
kohled eyes.
There’s no need for names
or shift-stick dreams.
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1a.
Leda and the Swan.
That was the rider and the last bike.
All white. Both of you.
Which was which
depended on the day.
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2.
Freedom is the word you’re trying to
think, to stick with while you’re
barreling, pedaling, pop-pop-pop
wheels on the pavement,
pup-pup-pup, thumb on the shift.
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But freedom slips away into that last
time, the stop-sign that didn’t make her stop,
the sweep and skid, how darkness
rose to meet your face.
How breath goes away in that moment
and the ones after.
Nothing.
Nothing.
Grasping.
Gasping.
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2b.
Raspberry jam, you said later, looking
at your arm and shin, the way the skin
bubbled red. You said it funny, because
you’ve learned that funny makes good stories.
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In weeks, all the glass bottles of
jelly go to green,
unable to be opened.
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3.
If you don’t know how to fix a flat
every shiny, every nail, every piece
of every thing that might or could or should
puncture
is enough to stop you or
swerve you.
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Car doors look sharper
from the outside. Tires
hold a lot of air, but that is not
the same as breath.
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5.
Freedom freedom freedom.
It is the way the wheels turn.
It is the way your breath sings.
It is the way you are when you’re
your best self. Which is rarely.
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6.
The bike is a gift. It tells you:
Monster mash.
Read a fucking book.
Be free!
But those aren’t your stickers,
so maybe it’s not telling you anything
except.
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6a.
Part of the gift is the lock, which
spells words. You are in love with
this lock, maybe more so than with this bike.
Your word is four letters. Your word is not free.
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7.
It needs a name, this new bike.
You both need a name
And a home.
But now you have a road
and a lock
and this whirr, this sound,
this thing
that you finally realize is
you
breathing
into yourself,
pumping
back to full.

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About This Poem: The prompt is “flashbulb moments,” which is kind of a hard one because I kind of feel like that’s what poems are anyway. This one, written stream-of-conscious at the coffee shop after having just gotten back from a bike ride. Following a path without knowing the destination. Per usual.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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