Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Judy Roy, whose poem was used as one of the prompts for the May Challenge, a poem regarding roles, selected "Learning to ride a bike" as the winning submission. Congratulations to the poet, Nancy Ann Schaefer. This is a poignant poem about role reversal.

Learning to ride a bike

To the parents I once knew: The Dad
who danced sock-footed as I balanced
on his toes, Old Spice from Christmas

tickling my nose. The Mom who taught
me how to bake & hem & knit woolen
caps; the smell of sugar cookies cooling

in airy kitchen when home from school,
shaken and spent, my telltale hands
chalk-caked from blackboard shaming, 

buffeted by figures unfathomable as
Rubik’s Cube, unruly—brain & fingers
out of sync, unsteady, like on my bicycle

without training wheels for the first time.
Mastery did come, Dad running beside me,
strong hand guiding handlebar, Mom calling

You can do it! Keep peddling! firm push, legs
pumping, acceleration, equilibrium—joy drunk
on speed & freedom, wind whistling at my back.

And now, years later & I am grown: Bad news,
the doctor says. Your husband, fatherAD….
His words punch the antiseptic air. Mom’s voice,

so sure before, is fretted & low; her eyes, search
beams sweeping over his face, white coat, diplomas.
Silence. The doctor clears his throat, looks

away. I squeeze her hand. I’m here Mom,
 I’m here. Peddling hard against the wind.

~ Nancy Ann Schaefer

This poem was previously published in the Rockford Review (Summer 2012). Copyright belongs to the author.

Here is what the judge had to say about this poem: "Learning to Ride a Bike shows clearly the switch in roles. The author brings me right into the family home, the childhood experience of learning to ride. There are several excellent choices of words:  Old Spice tickling my nose, brain and fingers out of sync, joy drunk on speed, Mom’s voice…fretted and low. I particularly like the way peddling returns in the last line."

Nancy Ann Schaefer is a recovering academic living in Maine with her husband, dog and three cats. Her poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and journals, including Off Channel, Numinous, Avocet, Tipton Poetry Journal, In Other Words: Mérida, Lake City Lights, Distilled Lives and The Rockford Review, among others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her first chapbook, In Search of Lode, was published by 918studio. She is currently working on her second collection. 


Check back on June 1 for the next Poetry Challenge.

Consider joining me on Saturday, June 6, at the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago. I will be leading a workshop entitled "On a Line By: Writing Poetry Inspired by Other Poems," from 1-2 pm in Room 5038, Jones College Prep. I will also be reading with others form Poets & Patrons of Chicago at 4:15 Saturday on the Arts and Poetry Stage. You can learn more about the Lit Fest at Printers Row Lit Fest.

.Later in the summer (August 16-21), I'll be leading a poetry workshop at the Green Lake Christian Writers' Conference. You can find more information on the conference at Green Lake Conference Center. Click on "conferences" and then on "adults."
 Green Lake Conference Center

© Wilda Morris