On Being Twelve

When I was twelve
I longed for the sleek Schwinns
My friends rode to roam the neighborhood.

They were shiny, swift, and cool
With skinny tires and three-speed gears
To help with hills.

An adolescent status symbol
So far from reach
It stings me still.

My uncle presented me
With a hand-made bike
One fender dull black, the other yellow.

He’d spent months
Scouring for spare parts
Fitting them firmly together.

I tried to hide my shame:
The gearless handle bars
The fat ugly tires.

My interest in riding
Evaporated as quickly
As the bike appeared.

I had to travel years before
I would know its worth:
How wonderful the wheels,
How fine the frame,
How rich the ride.



About the Poet:
Karen Vail is a retired English teacher. She spent 39 years sharing her love of the written word with her students and now continues this love by writing poetry. She is a member of a raucous group of seniors who meet weekly to share their poetry. She lives with her husband in Flemington, New Jersey.


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