The Body Gives
Sometimes the body gives too much.
A tendon frays, the heart mumbles
and no one sees the damaged parts.
Ignoring pain, we continue climbing ladders,
sandpaper breath rasping the morning light.
Little bits of us crumble all the time,
yet we stumble on, pretending.
Then the body kills us with its enthusiasm.
Cells duplicate wildly, plaque explodes.
This enmity within? Defensive maneuvers.
Working alone, I wonder where I might end.
On the floor. In a field. Atop the bed.
Under the surface of a rippling pond
or drifting with smoke
through a snow-clad afternoon
at eight thousand feet. Among
the grocery’s tomatoes and squash
approaching the end of a long list.
At the bar, glass in hand, or in a truck
at a four-way stop, the radio blaring.
Time enough for speculation, they say.
But I wonder: when I jump,
does the earth always rise to greet me?
“The Body Gives” first appeared in The New Reader Magazine, in March 2018.