Josslyn Turner

She Taught Me to Ride

The new bike waits in the oil-stained driveway.
I jump off the porch & onto the red vinyl
crosshatch seat. I feel like a motocross racer
with palms gripped over red rubber handles.

Let me teach you how to ride it, Mom says.
No, I say.

I’m afraid, not only of the tall bike, but her shrill
demanding voice when she tries to teach.
I just want to get on my blue Big Wheel
& ride like Danny Torrance through the halls
of the Overlook hotel.

She takes the bike to the street,
holds it unsteady as I get back on.
She has one hand on the handlebar,
one on the back of the seat.

Now pedal.
I don’t want to.

After minutes of back & forth, she gives up.
I start to get off the bike when someone clutches the seat.

I got you, she says.

Elvira, my best friend’s mother—
young Filipina next door who always steals
my attention with her quiet eyes
& that feather-soft voice.

Keeping a grip on the seat, she jogs behind
as I pedal up the street—
blue jays chatter in the ash trees
that line Albany Avenue, mid-morning July breeze
brushes my face—

then she lets go.

Author's Note: 

"I often write about my childhood in Modesto, California in the early '80s. This poem is the second one about my best friend Mark and his mother. I have great memories with Mark. When he moved away to the Philippines, I never stopped thinking about him."

Author's Bio:

Josslyn Turner is a queer trans poet, prose writer, and abstract artist. She's currently a student working toward a BA in English and an MFA in Poetry. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in isacoustic*, Journal Nine, Oyster River Pages, The Lily Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Waterford, California where she co-parents two awesome boys.