i used to pedal barefoot
through town on my blue bike.
i was ten years old
& my thighs were thick
with this june. in my bedroom
i'd try over & over to read books
but the words went to water &
all the pages wilted.
by the covers i would invent
what each was about.
my favorite was an indigo
hard-cover book with a gilded metal door
on the front. i told myself
in myself i was looking for that door
tree branch outside my window.
morning birds laughing. downstairs
my family was a collection of hands.
that summer i learned to make mac & cheese
for myself & i knew that meant
i could survive now on my own.
wooden spoon in the metal bowl.
scent of fresh boiling water.
pinch of salt.
the pedals had spiked metal grips
that dug into my callous feet
but i insisted on riding barefoot anyway.
at the playground i'd wander,
hoping no one else would be there.
at the far end where the old tree stood
i could imagine myself escaped--
away all that is impending
for a ten-year-old. i was aware
i would soon need to wear a bra
& that most ten-year-olds
didn't survey the town alone
on their blue bikes & that
i had five freckles on my face,
skipping across my nose
like pebbles. crouched,
i broke twigs & left the refuse
before pedaling home.
spokes cutting through air.