I mistake my kitten for a demon
breathing sparks & trailing fire. He grew wilder
while I was gone. When I crouch low
outside the front screen door, he raises his paws
mewing like a child lost, now found.
Back when I was eighteen, stranded
without my car, the aged Pontiac I lived in
that summer between high school & college,
I saved my tips to buy a Ducati —
all I could afford. Freshmen couldn’t have cars
at this women’s school, but no one thought
to proscribe two-wheelers.
The bike shop’s amorous Italian helped me close
the deal, score black-market plates from a DMV creep
called Lester the Molester — yes
he made me nervous but did me no harm. I guessed
I knew how to ride. From Western Ave to Garden Street,
Shepard to Walker, I blew through traffic signals,
cropped every corner, careened
through a Shell station without pausing for gas,
braked at the curb in front of my dorm &
tipped the bike over, slid
my left foot into the rear spokes —
a poor choice to stop the wheel from spinning.
Nothing destroyed but nerve
yet I couldn’t walk. My friends found me a ride-share
home to my mother — estranged
I wouldn’t call. Arrived on her unlit porch
I rang the bell. I knew it was late
but college life became me —
skipping morning classes meant
I stayed up half the night. Last I’d heard
Mom was raising my teenage brother, they’d adopted
a Great Dane. The front door opened
to rabid barking in a blaze of light
my mother aiming a revolver at my heart,
crying out to see my face,
the crutch, lowering the gun
she said, I thought you were a burglar.
Lucky for you I didn’t fire.