“For Dad, A Year After His Death” by Cathy Gilbert

Today I remembered you
teaching me to ride my bike without training wheels.
I held tight to the pink handle grips
as you held me steady, your piano hands stretching
beyond the full octave to guide me
by the back of the polka dotted seat.

I felt the comfort of you next to me.
As we started out, my feet pedaled,
and you huffed alongside, keeping me balanced.

The wind in my face grew stronger,
my feet more impatient, and those two wheels
carried me faster and farther than ever before.

I stopped, a thrilled laugh exploding,
placed my feet on the ground
and turned to you
but you weren’t there.

I’d left you long ago, and I squinted
to see you small in the distance
of the street length between us.
I wanted to see you smiling,
but the sun burned my eyes
and silhouetted you into shadow.

And then I put my foot back to the pedal
and set off on my own, feeling
the ghost of your presence still at my side.



Cathy Gilbert is an Instructor of English at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL. She currently teaches many levels of composition, but will soon add creative writing to her repertoire. Her poems have appeared in the Madison Review, Main Channel Voices, and PANK. When she’s not teaching, grading, or writing, Cathy attends as many jazz and rock shows as her sleeping schedule allows.


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