Wendy Carlisle


A bicycle soaks up heat in the tropical noon while you simmer in your five-o-ones, denim that blots up oceans of sweat from a kidís butt stuck to the seat of a dressed-out lavender Schwinn. 

Mother wears dresses, does not bicycle.  She says that if you are beautiful even the hibiscus make way for you.  She says you can drive a man to scream and hammer with his fists.  If he loves you enough.  She says you can wait for it to happen.  50 years if necessary.  Mother says, you can cry, but never for a man. 

My sister and I listen and take it in.  Our ears stay tuned for wannabe hammers, and Mother does without until we grow as beautiful as we will ever be, all the while coveting her sharkskin circle skirt and watching out for the frantic stranger.

O, the long kickstand evenings, the white plastic fringes.  O, the chrome handlebars, the sound of summer traffic.  O the slap of jokers in those wire spokes.






Bedtime Stories 2002
by Nancy Dunaway