the gravel slide
the speed at which the wheels spin
the whisper in the ear
the friend who dares
the wish to impress
the promise of safety
the purchase of a helmet
the birthday gift
the collaboration of legs
the lungs of a 10-year-old
the picture in the catalogue
the need for control
the need for freedom
what am I good at?
what do I know?
who am I?
how do I molt from the smallness
that is everything I touch?
and so it goes
a gift is purchased
a promise is made
a dare is made
the legs enact their destiny
and a chasm is nearly bridged by gears and muscle,
a lightning burst of pure conviction.
i say nearly
because there is nothing so permanent
as the moment just before things end
when the wheels begin to fail and the body coils
to catch the fall as squarely as it can.
in that one palpitating second before the wild swing
of the handlebars erases the possibility
of emerging from the rubble unscathed,
the girl cannot believe what she is seeing,
her legs like arrows,
the acreage of her body incalculable,
the way her arms are opening
to such blue and cloudless sky.