Paso Robles: Melvin’s Bike

Melvin Brandon’s sister’s white bike. 

He was teaching me how to ride
holding it, walking beside
as it rolled down a little of the slope
toward our house.

He hadn’t taught me about the brakes
by the time I borrowed it to show off
for my Aunt who was visiting.

I rode from the top of the slope
and had plenty of speed
as I flew past the house
around to the front
where my folks and Aunt Clare
were having drinks.

Just as I called “Look everybody!”
I had to choose between
going into the street
or hitting the tree
which I did, slamming my little-boy crotch
into the bike frame which sent me
rolling, groaning, to the lawn
and the comfort of nervous adults.

Later I was pushing my scooter across the street
when biking Melvin shouted “Lookout!” as he ran over me.

I found my lower left canine in my hand 
and, feeling no pain, said “thanks”
(losing teeth was still something new
and there was money in it as well as pride)
until some blood dropped in my hand too
from the hole that tooth had made
coming out through my lower lip.

I ran home screaming (blood meant pain),
unaware that my teeth would henceforth be misaligned.