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NIGHT-RIDING IN THE SEASON
OF GOAT'S THORN


All we wanted that summer night
was one smooth ride down valley shadow —
the wind to flatten back our hair,
tires to sing on a still-hot road.
Goat's thorn nailed the new front tire
and put an end to the first descent
down Choctaw Hill — the bicycle riding me
roughshod into the ditch, my brother
flying off the handlebars like an awkward angel
to land on his elbows in someone's corn.

We were so good at fixing bikes
we would do it in the dark.
On the second try, when we reached the bottom,
on the wooden bridge across the Little Kickapoo,
we were hitting fifty, maybe more.

Lord, it was grand to be young —
brothers on a bike — and though
we did it only once, at least
there was that time that we,
together, got it right.



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