Friday, April 26, 2019

Bicycle Wheel

Our milkman brought the war home with him.
I could hear the bottles rattle from my room above the porch.

A doctor used a belt and a bicycle wheel 
to put my dad's knee back in place. 
(That's why he didn't serve.)

Dad's voice was calm.
I could picture him standing in the early chill in his plaid robe.
The milkman's staccato curses bounced off him like a breeze.

Dad died twenty years ago.
I'm divorced with a grown son.
I don't know what happened to the milkman.

Dad and I watched the moon landing together.
I wondered how they'd ever get home.
Daddy, I want to start over.
I need a belt, a bicycle wheel, and something to bite on.
I need to re-enter somehow.

If I do,
if I burn bright the way I used to
when I'd spot you;
If you'd say,
"There's my girl,"
I think I could find the blue ocean one more time
and bob like a cork, light as a child, 
with helicopters coming fast from the eastern sky.

 for this.


  1. Just beautiful. Especially for someone from the same era. Thanks so much. Really wonderful, especially the connections between the moon so far away and those in Vietnam, and the Eastern sky with the early morning of the milk man's delivery. You tell your story in wonderfully subtle ways--the milk man's curses--even the bobbing like a cork and the blue ocean brings up the landing of those remains of the space craft in the ocean, the astronauts being found by the helicopters--I suppose that is all obvious, but the images work so well on a metaphoric level, that one forgets how true they are on a purely factual basis in terms of what you are describing. Anyway, a new favorite of yours. (Even the burning and the spotting of the dad are like the astronauts coming through the atmosphere--all mixed up somehow with Vietnam and disappointment--loss-- as it all was.) k.

  2. Oh Shay. This made me cry. No wonder you neglected ZP this morning. So full of nostalgia, so full of grief. If only...if only.

  3. The worst part is that when so many years divide you, you begin to forget the small things. I am so glad you remember them in poetry.

  4. Oh my goodness. I remember that clink of glass milk bottles on the porches, and how, walking to school, the site of them made me cry, so badly did I want a home to live in different from the one I did. So poignant, if only you could hear one more time "there's my girl." Sigh. This one went straight from your heart into mine.

  5. I lived around the corner from you, SHAY. We lived on a farm and grew the milk. My cow's name was Brownie in case you looked.

  6. Astonishingly good, Shay! l love the memory, that moment of watching the moon landing together – I did the same thing with my dad, only thousands of miles away – and the lines:
    ‘I need a belt, a bicycle wheel, and something to bite on.
    I need to re-enter somehow.’


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