Riding

When I was a child I once limped
five miles home, pushing my bicycle up viaducts
and across busy streets, just to get back
to the kitchen for a Band-Aid.

Then out again, to only crash again
five blocks away, rip open the same wound,
wheel my bike to the garage,
and go lay in the uncut lawn.

So I gave up that day, but did not give up
riding, kept hopping on that unbalanced contraption
and going down hills too steep,
stumbling over curbs too high, taking corners
too fast.

And so to this day my elbows and knees are GARBAGE.
Full of dents and scars and skin folds.
And I’m always banging them
against doorframes and desk drawers and table legs,
chipping them into knobs and daggers,
the thin hair upon them no longer able to grow.

I’m an adult; leggy and lean,
covered in pockmarks and lines from hours in the sun
without sunscreen, streaks of white
that when I gaze upon fill me with graphic memories

of when I fell out of that tree,
got punched in the face,
got dragged by my sister and cousins
down the staircase, burnt my chin
on a propane lighter,
sliced my finger mishandling my pocketknife
given to me by my father,
the knocks I took wriggling my way
through spaces far too small, into cupboards and dryers,
falling on ice rinks, through frozen ponds,
sledding gone awry tossing me into thorny bushes,
games of knuckles, climbing over fences
and down old mine shafts in the park,
falling on the train tracks when flattening pennies,
donking my forehead
against countless wooden beams; so I am perhaps
kinda ugly, the smooth skin and fine complexion
of young beauties well gone.

My inner hands are seared red, leathery and worn.
I used them to write this poem, and I think
they rather hijacked it, made off with me.
They are kind, and adventurous captors.

I love them. They love me.

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