Middle-aged and bifocaled, she waits at the stop sign for them to fly past,
windows open to welcome the hot air—better than watching through haze.
She grips the wheel, each new wrinkle on her hand another impossibility
between them. Out of time. Displaced person. She is not supposed to be there,
her silence like a cancer—and everything vinegar on her tongue.
She is afraid to blink, to miss them, while the ice cream melts in her trunk.
Suddenly they ride with eyes ablaze, unfettered and invincible for fifteen minutes,
charging past cars, ignoring traffic lights. There is freedom in each small rebellion.
The oldest with his curly hair and wild eyebrows seems to recognize her.
His mouth a full grin, his braces shining, he winks with a fleeting confidence that only comes
on two wheels in motion. Fearless and beautiful in awkward angles,
he is like all the boys from books she adored when she was young; clever boys
with secrets—closet skeletons, noble hearts, and stepmothers' curses.
The bikes whir and flap, playing cards clipped to their spokes with clothespins,
and as the youngest passes, she sees the seven of clubs fastened to one wheel,
punctuating his ride with a clack-clack-clack that brings the bike one step closer
to the roar of a motorcycle. She watches her brothers as they turn the corner
and rise up off the ground, trading wheels for wings, leaving this world behind—
endangered and unstoppable. On the seat beside her, under needles and starwort,
are six shirts tear-stained, one still not finished, and behind her the siren draws near.