Getting started on my run, with a half-hearted warm up of leg swings and high knees, like an old jalopy whose engine hasn’t been started for a long time, there is the same metaphorical cloud of smoke and the same metaphorical BANG as my body backfires and my frame shudders.
It isn’t pretty.
I try again and lurch forward into an uneasy lumber, my feet slapping and thudding the pavement loudly in some kind of petulant protest. The muscles in my legs are shocked at the impertinence; the callous and uncouth injustice against their resting state. Complaints fly from every corner and injunctions rain down against this untoward action I have undertaken. “Who do I think I am, anyway!”
But possession is 9/10ths of the law and I am in possession of myself. Barely. Will is a necessary fuel as well and I haven’t enough to fill a thimble – what I do have will have to do; and it does.
My minds eye shifts from the angry inner-mob to things outside of myself. It’s cool out and dark, but I can still see the thick cloud cover over Tucson. There’s a slight breeze which makes the humidity bearable. Finally, my attention shifts a third time to the magazine rack of my mind, browsing topics and happenings in my life, spread out in front of me like a waiting rooms offerings. My attention bends to and picks up a flier on a conversation I had with someone, and toys with it briefly before grabbing another. On page B-3 my internal gaze rests momentarily on the “who was that guy at that place?” section before moving on to ‘Sports’. “I really hope the Browns are good this year”, my mind whispers quietly so as not to challenge or anger the NFL gods. Attention flits like a butterfly from subject to subject; ‘what will I blog about today?’, ‘what a great little group!’, ‘I’ve never done Yassos’, etc.
Imperceptible to my distraction, all of the afore-complainants within me have shuffled off to their various duties. They’ve strapped themselves in place and, having grumbled their last grumble, they set about to do the jobs they are meant to do.
Then it happens.
I’m strong again, awake and alive. The foot and thigh, the strength of my driving hips and clean rythmic rotation of my torso, all in accord, all together in fluid motion. Great joy rises up in every quarter and my heart swells, as my feet mark the clean lines of verse and my breath gives them life.
The joy of running is found in the quiet congress of the poetic body in motion.