Letting Go
by Steve Bertolino

I was one of those kids
who felt it when my dad removed
his hand from the back of the bicycle seat
when I was six, and turned around,
shocked that he would let go,
my head dragging along my torso and my arms,
the bike turning sharply right,
and I fell over, spraining the ankle that
got trapped and bent under the chain deflector.
I remember crying, but I also remember
thinking that it wasn’t his fault, but mine.
I wasn’t adaptable enough.
Of course I didn’t know that word, then,
but I knew the accompanying feeling.
He pulled the bike off me and I sat there
in the grass, my foot twisted and swelling,
while he ran back towards the house
for some ice, and to call my mom at work.
It didn’t occur to me until years later
that he left me there instead of carrying me
to the house, laying me down on the sofa,
and getting me some juice and a cold pack.
By the time I thought of that, he’d gone
three years before, down in Florida
somewhere, selling cars and living with
my mom’s secretary, as if trying
intentionally to become a cliché.

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