“Bike Ride with Older Boys” by Laura Kasischke
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
Bike Ride with Older Boys
The one I didn't go on. I was thirteen, and they were older. I'd met them at the public pool. I must have given them my number. I'm sure I'd given them my number, knowing the girl I was. . . It was summer. My afternoons were made of time and vinyl. My mother worked, but I had a bike. They wanted to go for a ride. Just me and them. I said okay fine, I'd meet them at the Stop-n-Go at four o'clock. And then I didn't show. I have been given a little gift— something sweet and inexpensive, something I never worked or asked or said thank you for, most days not aware of what I have been given, or what I missed— because it's that, too, isn't it? I never saw those boys again. I'm not as dumb as they think I am but neither am I wise. Perhaps it is the best afternoon of my life. Two cute and older boys pedaling beside me—respectful, awed. When we turn down my street, the other girls see me ... Everything as I imagined it would be. Or, I am in a vacant field. When I stand up again, there are bits of glass and gravel ground into my knees. I will never love myself again. Who knew then that someday I would be thirty-seven, wiping crumbs off the kitchen table with a sponge, remembering them, thinking of this— those boys still waiting outside the Stop-n-Go, smoking cigarettes, growing older.
from Dance and Disappear, 2002
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA
Copyright 2002 by Laura Kasischke.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of University of Massachusetts Press from Dance and Disappear, 2002. Copyright 2002 by Laura Kasischke. For further permissions information, contact University of Massachusetts Press, P.O. Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004.
About the Poet
Laura Kasischke is the author of eight books of poetry, including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan.
Learn more about Laura Kasischke at The Poetry Foundation.