My Father on a Bicycle

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.