the GENDER issue / POETRY

Bike Riding Sunday

by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

The first mango you ever shared with a boy

a sticky mango calabash 
he takes a bite  you take a bite
he takes another bite
hands you his sticky grin  you bite 
juice oozing down your chin neck hands fingers
after that you share almost everything numbers and spelling

on Sundays it's ackee & codfish
doubles & curry goat
you share soccer balls & a cricket bat
you shy away from the bike
it is a boy's bike and you've been told
no warned girls don't ride boy's bikes

you can hurt something grandma warns
something what
down there she says roughly
get in and take your bath
one girl but yuh like three

on a day when the wind sounds like humming
he takes you out back orders you to get on the bike
he holds the hand rails and tells you push
you push almost all the breath in your body coming through your legs

together you head down the hill in a hail of red dust
he running by your side
you are shaking inside
then you hear your mother
she claps and cackles loudly from the kitchen window 

ten and you feel taller than the raw wood lamppost
looming in the sun's shadow

                                                             Cheryl, you're getting older
                                                             almost a young lady
                                                             time to stop horsing around wid boys
                                                             boys ha trouble in them!

Grandma spits in a loud voice.  

 

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is a Trinidadian-American poet writing in Brooklyn, New York. Her latest collection of poems Arrival, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2017. Her upcoming collection of political poems We Are Not Wearing Helmets, will be published in 2021.

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