Today, Kathleen M. Kelley invites us along when a brief moment catches her attention. This poem does one of the essential jobs of poetry. It takes a moment that might disappear and etches it into the reader’s consciousness as part of something larger, leaving us with a question that is much more powerful than an answer would be.

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The Bike Ride

Late, in a hurry,
I pass them
pedaling rusty bikes uphill,
side by side
in tank tops and cut offs,
father on the outside—
unshaven, too big for the seat—
son on the inside—
skinny as a stick
and standing as he pumps
to get more power.

Stopped at the light,
I look into the car’s side mirror
just as the dad’s long, ropey arm
reaches out and over
grabbing the boy’s bike by the handlebars,
holding it steady with a muscled grip.
It is as if he wants his son
to know something—
not just how far the boy can go,
a father at his side—
but also the futility of resistance.

Later, I will wonder
what the boy has learned,
and what he will make of the memory
when time catches up,
as it will,
and he looks back.


Published with the author’s permission.

Kathleen KelleyKathleen M. Kelley’s chapbook The Waiting Room received the Philbrick Poetry Award, judged by Marge Piercy, in 2010. She was awarded the Anderbo Poetry Prize in 2008.

Her work has appeared in the following journals: Theodate, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Persimmon Tree, The Sun, Earth’s Daughters, Peregrine, Perigee, The Green Fuse, Evergreen Chronicles, and Mediphores. Her poems are included in these anthologies: The 2012 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine Anthology, Women’s Encounters with the Mental Health Establishment, and The Patient Who Changed My Life.



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