First Bike

There, at the bottom of the river.
Time slips. The leaves are the leaves
of woods long felled, gold still, like treasure.
The currents turn one wheel as if

you had just laid it down to run
from year to year, from bright to shade,
across the bridge from being young
to here where you stand, unwise and afraid

in grown-up shoes. Your father’s hand
once steadied you. When he let go
you rode, because you didn’t know;

you rode across the yard to find
your balance always was your own.
You rode on after dark alone.

Jacob Polley


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