Up the Hill to Maplewood

Up the hill to Maplewood,
little legs striding anxiously,
pushing a bright red bike
at age seven was a feat.

Family long gone are witnesses
to failure and successes;
standing on a stone to reach the seat,
we would work until the sun had set.

With bloodied knees and elbows as proof,
Dad and I would head back home;
my head low and Dad’s head high
“We will try again tomorrow.”

Mom would bandage my feelings and wounds
with salves and love.
She would say “Riding a bike is tough.”
“And a bit rough,” I would say.

Up the hill to Maplewood we would trudge,
the next day and the next,
standing on the same stone
so my foot could give it a nudge.

One ordinary evening,
with the sun ending it’s daily journey,
I step on the stone,
placing my butt on the bright red banana seat,
and my toe gives the stone a gentle push.

Pumping and pedaling, the bike shifts from right to left,
shaky at first. And then a bit more steady.
“Keep going!” Dad’s voice is distant and excited.

For a few moments, Maplewood Cemetery
fills with screams of joy as a boy,
riding his bright red bike,
flies for the very first time.


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