We saw the graffiti, in Italian, from the back
of his motorcycle: tu storia sempre
sara parte de la mia. He pushed
the visor of his helmet up to point it out to me
and translate, remarking how poetic
he’d always found the phrase.
“The story of you is now a part of me.”
And now that story is a part of me, a small piece
of shared identity; it was my first time
on two wheels like that, swerving around cars and up
onto the sidewalk like that, my shaking arms a vise
around him and my hands clenched
tight in the pockets of his jacket –
my nails digging into my palms through the lining.
It’s not the thought of dying I was scared of, but
the wet smear on the pavement, the sound of breaking
bones, the bits of torn-off skin– the idea that shifting
my weight could change our course or lay us
down on concrete. That night we sped back
to his apartment after a three-course meal
and good red wine. Even though the wind we made
battered us more strongly than before, I loosened my grip
and for the first time looked somewhere
other than his shoulder. The headlights of cars
made short funnels through the darkness. If I wanted
I could have struck the mirrors off their sides.
It wasn’t until Matt swung me off the seat and walked
the bike in its garage that we realized
I had lost my purse and all my things off of the back.