I kept my speed by sound,
by aural tachometer, by feel
of the rear wheel wobble
oh so slightly bent
from the times the lugnuts popped
like the fourth's firecrackers.
My brother got to skate the freeway
on three bald tires and one
wheel spinning over the shoulder--
look over his shoulder watch it go.
I had no such drama.
Felt only the shudder and pulled
over in good time; with a brake groan
and bang the left rear corner dropped
to dent the tarmac.
Christmas, and the cats howled.
I was Miss America in hiking boots, parka,
with Tom's flowers wilted trapped
under my elbow, the cat crate
heavy with two and tipping
with scrabble-claw slides.
Dillard's loaned a shopping bag
that, stealthy, tore
and squeaky toy hit pavement and rolled
like a live thing, raising hopes
in nighttime's hungry eyes.
Hard to fit all that in a towtruck,
harder still in a truckstop diner where I begged
to bring the cats in from the cold
and the waitress let me plant them
beneath the tree, an angry gift
howling while I ate french fries
in Wapakoneta, awaiting Neil Armstrong.
I wrecked it for good, years later
in icefall and ignorance in four-wheel drive
spinning over the roads, watching for deer.
If I hit one, I wondered, who would learn
of my death and when? Then I slid
down a hillside, startled, into a tree,
with my last words a whispered
I guess I'll find out.