Your first bicycle was a hot pink Schwinn with a banana seat, a basket with flowers, yellow tassels fluttering from white-capped ends. Rods let two wheels train you, until your mother unbolted them and said, I’ll run beside you and hold the seat. Then I’m letting you go. You gripped the handlebars. Who wouldn’t? To the rough tongue of golf cart path curving through all that green, hedged by lilacs where lost balls wink neon in the shadows, she gave you willingly and you began to trust muscles, sunshine, the language we speak of two-wheels on road.
Your first bike meandered around your aunt’s house—kitchen, living room, hall—as if spinning could take place everywhere, every carpeted room, window’s view of sloping hydrangea, or woodsy backyard of swing set, parked car, and gravel drive. You sat just to sit, feel that fan roar, how we bellowed and called, beckoned the leaves of brown-tipped spiders, devil’s ivy limp with thirst. Just like you sat upon us at a fitness center watching the men puffed up like stallions, women startled like birds, our faces tracking distance, grade, and heart rate when you gripped our bars. As a girl you couldn’t go anywhere, spun just to spin. As a gym-bound animal, you were still going nowhere and were going there fast. All of us facing treadmills and big screen TVs. All those weights waiting to be lifted and you were waiting, too, in that babble, speaking occasionally to no one you really knew.
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), and The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard). She teaches in Nebraska. Her collaborative book with artist Sally Brown Deskins, Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles), was an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award.