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Learning
by Charlotte Lynch

I cycle quietly through the trees
It rained this morning, so
Falling will only inconvenience my mother
I can hear her now, sighing
“Stand in the kitchen and leave your clothes on the floor.
Do not step on the carpet”
Wobbling slowly over leaves and twigs
I focus on arms outstretched
Ahead, my brother, younger, laughing
You’ve all this yet to come, brother dearest

–Focus
I’m almost there, almost made it
Into the arms of what is these days a stranger

Finally, come to a stop
Feet squelch as they hit the ground
No trace of the white, rubber soles I left with
Smiling, you lean in
And I recoil a touch, a gentle shoulder rub
“Shall we take you back to your mum, then?”

We don’t talk on the journey home
But my brother keeps you occupied
Stabilisers on our bikes
He dreams of one day racing through puddles
Like the motorbike gangs tearing up the field
I pedal and pedal these four wheels
You don’t say home, because it’s not what it used to be

IMAGE: “Blue bike family” by Aslan Topcu, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem started off being about learning to ride my bike in the woods as a child, on a muddy clearing in the trees, but ended up being partly about the breakup of my parents and the effect it had on my relationship with my father as I delved deeper into the memory. I remember it very clearly, though I feel like my brain has probably taken some artistic license with it! I titled this poem “Learning,” as I feel as though there is more to be learned from this experience than just how to ride a bike, despite that being the main focus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlotte Lynch is a writer and musician who has done both of these things her whole life, regardless of having an audience or not. After obtaining a BA(1st) in Creative Musicianship in London, Charlotte has gone on to write, sing, love, and be happy. She is quite the walking cliché.