The Bicycle Lesson
by Anna DiMartino
Take a hill–-
not just any hill
but a smooth sidewalked hill
with a gentle slope
on a street lined with ordinary houses
filled with everyone you know
and your dad, standing behind you
holding onto the back
of that black banana seat
of the bicycle he gave you
for your birthday. And you,
with your tiny feet
on the pedals, hands clamped
around those unwieldy handlebars.
Now he’s running fast alongside you,
and all you can see is the road ahead.
You’re shouting, Don’t let go,
but you know he has to, both of you
scared and determined,
and the second he lets
go, both of you wish
that he hadn’t. Now he watches
you ride off, tries to catch
his breath. You, on your own,
pedaling fast, the clack of cards clipped
to spokes, and that rush of accomplishment
that courses like steam through the engine
of your body, that euphoric moment before
your bike derails and throws you to the sidewalk,
scraping knees and elbows. You turn to find your dad.
You lost sight of him a ways back
but somehow, he’s right beside you,
his strong hands lifting you up to your feet.
PHOTO: “The Bicycle Lesson” (San Diego, California, 1975). The author, age six, and her dad.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna DiMartino is a writer, artist, teacher, and mother. Her writing has appeared in Atlanta Review (Spring, 2016), The Cancer Poetry Project 2; A Year in Ink, Volume 6 (San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology); Serving House Journal: Issues 8, 10 and 12, Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life, and is forthcoming in Lake Effect and Whale Road Review. She is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing at Pacific University, and will graduate in June of 2016. Her website is www.annaodimartino.com