The summer your parents split,
your mom painted the bedroom mauve
and got a boyfriend.
My mother said, “I don’t want you going there
if only Chris is home.”
Evenings, the pair of them slinked downstairs
to toast Eggo waffles by the sink.
He kissed her goodbye in the mudroom.
We watched as he climbed on his motorbike.
The day he asked, “Anyone want a ride?”
I raised my hand. The thing was giant up close.
Spitting smoke. He had to lift me on.
I felt ashamed to touch him.
Still when he said Hold tight, I held, staring
at his sunburnt neck. A sudden growling on.
My stomach like the inside of a gun.
His hot arm-skin. I couldn’t speak, hemmed in by wind.
My hair blown tall, our bodies razed up
in a corset of oil. Every house looked different
in the quickness: sprinklers’ glitches,
kiddie pools and scraggy trees. Those landmarks
didn’t bind me to the Earth.
Then your mom in her bikini
in the street: “Stop, stop!”

All my life I never told you how quiet it was
on the dismount
grease reeked my palms half holy
legs dizzy with particle sounds
the shock of barreling fast through that slow age

Kathleen Radigan

Kathleen Radigan's poems and comics have been featured in The New Yorker, The Sun, The Rumpus, The Boston Globe, and The Baffler, among other publications. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MFA from Boston University. She lives in Brooklyn, where she teaches high school creative writing and frequently posts doodles to her instagram: @kathradical.