You’re Not Listening

.           .           .

We rode our bikes on the weekend. She had a basket on her handlebars—a white wicker basket that held a raincoat, her keys, and a bike-lock—and when she pedaled the bike, her housekeys jangled and bounced.

“They’re like a bell,” I said. “They tell when you’re coming. People walking before you know you’re headed their way. They hear your keys.”

“Here comes Madison! Run!”

We rode a trail by the side of the river. We cycled along the paved paths of a park at the trail-end, and she rode faster than I did, and I couldn’t keep up. I looked at runners and chipmunks and at geese by the pond, and when a fox in the forest watched the Canada geese, I called to Madison.

“Look! See the fox?”

It started raining that day. She was ready. She stopped beneath a maple tree, and in the dry grass underneath the limbs and the leaves, she put the rain jacket on and zipped her keys in her pocket. My clothes were wet from the rain.

She said: “You couldn’t keep up.”

“I saw a fox,” I said.


“In the forest. I tried to tell you. I called.”

“I couldn’t hear you,” she said. “It’s hard to hear when there’s someone behind me. I hear you best when you face me—when I see what you say.”

“I need to face you,” I said to her. Got it.”

She kissed my cheek.

“Good. You’re learning. You’ll learn.”