Carol Carpenter

I coveted that bike, all red shine and glare

propped on its kickstand in the window of Shields Bike Shop.

I twisted my head to stare at that bike whenever

we drove by but I lied to my father, “Nah, too flashy.”

For sure, he wanted his job back before Christmas,

wished his hands still tightened the vise,

operated the shaper, cut metal once more

within tolerances. Layoffs bloomed

that hot summer in Detroit. Tempers split the humid air

when work trickled in as if dripped from a leaky hose.

My father planted dahlias, one hundred tuberous roots

and staked them against the whoosh of the west wind.

Soil lined our fingernails as we yanked weeds and father

fed me Dahlia names: Blackberry Ice and Cherry Drop,

Candy Cane and Apricot Sun. He answered newspaper ads,

hoped for a call back and deadheaded dahlias, whistling.

At first frost, the dahlias turned brown. My father predicted

snow on Christmas. He tracked jobs, kept in touch and bought

nothing new. White flakes glistened like wet December

dahlias. Petals of snow crystals piled up.

Out front and three houses down that Christmas day,

my father had shoveled the walk. When I straddled my new

red bike and pedaled away, he shaded his eyes

and waited until the tires rolled me back to him.

Carol Carpenter writes poetry to explore the world from various views and to savor the beauty of language. Her goal is to grab readers’ attention until they discover something interesting in her poems and want to read them a second time. Poems and stories by Carol Carpenter have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including: Soundzine, Barnwood, The Pedestal, Orbis and Quiddity. Her work had been exhibited by art galleries and produced as podcasts (Connecticut Review and Bound Off). Her chapbook, The Empress of Patton Avenue, was published online by Heartsounds Press. She received the Hart Crane Memorial Award, the Jean Siegel Pearson Poetry Award, Artists Among Us Award and others. She lives in Michigan.

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