Safety First

Safety First


Before helmets existed,

I rode my bike dozens of miles

to the pool, tennis courts,

and library. My bare head


sailed through updrafts

as I encircled the middle school

parking lot, for no reason


except it was there. Injury

happened to other people,

but I never gave it much thought.


Later, my own son, swaddled

in knee and elbow pads,

head encased in a sturdy


fiberglass helmet, wobbled

down the sidewalk for half a block,

then proclaimed he didn’t care


if he ever rode a bicycle.

After thirty-two years,

he still doesn’t know how.

3 thoughts on “Safety First

  1. I too grew up in the pre-helmet days, and you conjure them so well and economically in the opening of this poem! I think your choices of where / how to break those beginning stanzas are great (after “bare head” and after “no reason”)–breaking in those places really allows the words to breathe, the poem to open up, and readers to feel the freedom of those days. The period at the end of the third stanza then marks a decisive end before your shift to the times of helmet expectations, and the period has all the more force because of the way you’ve treated the earlier two stanzas.

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