It was a long way.
But we were a bunch of kids
with a lot of drive, and we said,
It’s only a hundred miles to the other end.
So we rode out of the city
on our bikes.
Len and Ralph had new ones, skinny, sleek.
They even had drop bars; only mine was ballooned.
It had all the wrong genes,
and had only recently evolved from one with training wheels.
Still, I managed, and most of the time I kept up,
and even though I felt inferior, I wouldn’t say.

Len lives in one room now.
Ralph got addicted; took an overdose, and died.
I rode bikes until two years ago,
until I started getting dizzy, losing my balance.
Now my last one, a racer, its toe-clips rusted,
is still in the garage, and I am fully aware
it is time to throw it out.

In some town, I don’t now remember,
all the way out on Long Island,
one of my tires blew out, and I thought,
Oh, this is the end of it. In a way,
there was some sort of symbolism there
of which I was not aware.
Before that I was close to my friends.
Now, all of a sudden, I was on my own.

I walked the bike to a near-by garage.
The others turned, started riding back.
I called my father
who drove out eventually, picked me up.
In the car, it didn’t seem so far.

Childhood to adolescence:
Another bike, a different kind of world.
In retrospect
that was one of the turning points,
like later, the transition to adulthood,
when one moves out, away from home.
First to school, then an apartment of one’s own.
Now that I think of it, there are so many of them,
and you, most often, don’t notice them,
until, long past, that next bicycle, and the one after that,
are no longer part of your existence.