Thursday, June 21, 2007

For John Alexander

An older poem...a new image to go with it.


Masters Track

Every arc is different. I heard Mr. John Alexander
lost his wife and sank before a friend pulled him out
into his new adventure, before he could bring himself
to pull hard against the same curve again and again.

The same curve and different each time – light shifting,
the smell of woodsmoke one day and wet grass the next,
one knee aching more than at other times, tempo changing
in small ways. We all felt those things; few spoke it.

John sewed his racing flats out of old bedroom slippers, told
me once he trained by dragging a truck tire tied to a rope
around his waist. He was over 70 years of age, forged iron
for legs by then, faster at the 400 than many 40-year-olds.

The way we were taught to race: spend it all by 300 meters
and hang on, grind it out, gut it out. Others still ran
their race with some reserve, but I learned to relish
that moment when pain caught me, emptied me, nothing left.

Every arc is different, but the way our coach taught us –
drive hard against the curve then float then drive – it seemed
the same arc as an old star flaring, hotter, brighter, each
sparking burning atom turned fast as light before the end.


Anonymous said...

I like this pairing, Lori... And the sentiment seems so like you, going "all out," burning.

jarvenpa said...

It's a fine poem, Lori, strong and bright. (I envy it, which I rarely do--that "gee, I wish I could have written this" moment).

word verification today is ultra-second wave feminist: wemeyn!

Lori Witzel said...

Thanks much, you two!

Right now I'm feeling mighty dim and tired, so am hoping the shining burning light of creative energy is visiting y'all...

am said...

I like this poem very much, Lori, as well as what I see as a sunlit tree of life and a reflected tree of life, as we in the Northern Hemisphere enter summer. I see you as deeply generous with your energy on a daily basis. Hope the coming days and nights bring you renewed energy. There it is again -- William Blake -- Energy is Eternal Delight.

chris miller said...

Not exactly
how I'd want to spend my precious energy,
but seeing those scudded clouds
behind the line of trees,
and catching the scent
of woodsmoke and cut grass,
OK -- I'm off.
Hey Lori,
wait for me !

Lori Witzel said...

AM -- blessings to you -- I felt much better after your seeing "trees of life" everywhere!

Chris -- No worries, you! I meander more than I sprint now, having exchanged fabulous track experiences and lots of good Texas BBQ for the price of knees that can't take more pounding.

My coach, Jim Cawley, talked about getting two choices in life -- to rust out or to wear out.

Despite my fondness for rust, I'm living towards the "wear it out" side -- no wonder that I've started embodying it too.

chris miller said...

..and I would prefer to melt out
(and then, of course, evaporate !)

Rethabile said...

I've read two of your poems, and I must be back. You're a painter poet, but you sing, too. It's all very nice.