Contents | July/August 2003

More on poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.

The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2003
My Father on a Bicycle

by Patricia Clark
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If you ever saw my father in shorts,
you wouldn't forget his stick-thin legs,
the knees knobby as windfall dwarf apples.

And the only time I saw him ride a bike,
Oakes Street, I think, he pedaled "no hands"
down the street to show me the stance.

He wasn't a runner either, though he'd move
at a quick trot when trouble came to our door—
usually when the twins caught somebody's wrath.

Once they set an oatgrass field on fire, and trucks
came, red and furious down the boulevard.
Another time, after a morning of water-fat balloons

lobbed at cars, the cops shadowed our porch.
Our father was an ambler, a stroller, a tall stander.
I can see him, heron-alert, bareheaded,

the waters of the Satsop or Nooksack, the cold
Chehalis, up past his knees, casting a line
among boulders, deadwood, and drop-offs.
Deep, moving water his abiding friend.

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Patricia Clark is the author of North of Wondering (1999). Her work has appeared recently in Poetry and Slate.
Copyright © 2003 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July/August 2003; My Father on a Bicycle; Volume 292, No. 1; 64.