I stood on the sidewalk
by my parents
when my brother set off
on his first bike ride solo around the block
and never came back.
For fifty years some of me has waited there
midway through his lap,
but his journey continues as he learns firsthand
lessons in how the universe expands.
We had no way to know
where he would go:
no pins in a map to show
a block of ice in someone’s garage,
or a hit and run by a car,
or a cargo hold on a ship to Mars.
What I know now
(but then did not)
is many moments come and go,
but really bad ones stay.
They have made me live with the remains
of a child heart in an aging man’s frame,
trying still to negotiate with something
a slightly better version of forever,
scaled down so not to ask too much,
hoping less enough could be approved.
Like meeting in a halfway place,
he in a soft knit shirt I outgrew,
and I, promising not to talk,
just remain side by side with him
in front of a house,
kickstands down and sidewalk safe.
Michael Maul is currently living on Florida’s Gulf Coast. His poems have appeared in literary publications in and outside the United States, and in anthologies that include The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2015 and The Best of Boston Literary Magazine 2005-2015. He is also a past winner of the Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction.