“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 Wesleyan University Press from It Is If I Speak. Copyright 2000 by Joe Wenderoth. For further permissions information, contact Wesleyan University Press, email@example.com
About the Poet
Poet and novelist Laura Kasischke was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan. Her books of poetry include Wild Brides(1992), Fire and Flower(1998), Dance and Disappear (2002),Gardening in the Dark(2004), Lilies Without(2007), and Space, in Chains(2011), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Kasischke has won numerous awards for her poetry, including the Juniper Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, the Alice Fay DiCastagnola Award, the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, and the Rilke Poetry Prize from the University of North Texas. She has also won several Pushcart Prizes, as well as received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Learn more about Laura Kasischke at The Poetry Foundation.