By Dave Hood
He recalls his running days, jogging slowly to loosen his limbs,
warming up with a few stretches, then running along the concrete sidewalk, on the asphalt road, past parked cars, up a steep hill,
panting, sweating like a slob, feeling exhaustion creeping in,
muscles seizing up like a motor without oil, his alter ego whispering
—quit, give up, stop, relax…
He’d fight the pain, run onward as if possessed, up another steep hill, to the top, through the park, where the kid’s would be playing,
into the woods of Maples, then through a field of grass,
runner’s high “kicking in.” He’d drift into a relaxed state,
as if meditating, the pain beginning to drift away. So, he’d
run further, along the gravel road, where a menacing dog
would bark, force him to speed up.
He’d run across the busy street, motorists honking horns,
screaming “watch out,”
back into the neighborhood, glance at nosy neighbors
like old Mrs. Philips who’d be watching,
bottle of beer in hand, puffing on a cigarette,
then slow down, stop and relax in front of his house.
He’d be soaked in sweat,out of breath, exhausted,
yet, feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Now he’s trapped, strapped in a wheelchair,
tense as a stretched elastic band,
disease slowing, crippling his limbs,
fogging his mind, blurring his memories of
what it felt like to run.