by Elizabeth Oxley

Jeans snarl in spokes, and I tumble

from my bicycle at yard’s edge. Summer


frogs gather, gullets pulsing a baritone hum,

start and stall of tiny engines. I pick gravel


from my knee. It is six years since the fall

of Saigon. At night, my parents fight


in their bedroom. When we leave my father,

it’s for a town with winding creeks, canted


cemetery hill where I lift my feet and coast,

tires running tight orbits. At school, we practice


sitting in hallways with our heads covered.

The wall comes down in Berlin. Students


pedal to Tiananmen Square, bodies sprawled

across our television. Saturdays, I ride


to play pinball at the gas station, hair tied back,

wind stroking my forehead. My legs burn


on the climb. I tug on handlebars to keep my balance.

It was my father who first held me steady


until I trusted the frame to carry me. He let go

with his hands, smiled and raised arms, trembling.