Various and Sundry Poetry

three sets of 10

The weight machines at the 24-Hour Fitness
at Larkspur Landing look a little damp, sticky even,
but I'm wearing a new set of workout pants
and a bright white tank and I feel like a rock star
stepping foot in the place, waltzing right past
the stair climbers and treadmill walkers with their
4-inch television screens and swinging earphones,
toward the back, where the big boys play.

In fact, I choose a contraption that demands, ideally,
a few more pounds of muscle weight, because even setting the bar
at the lowest resistance, it becomes clear my body
has a long, long way to go.

This should be familiar by now. I don't know how many times
I've imagined myself a climbing guru, a tennis whiz,
a basketball pro, rollerblader extraordinaire,
and pulverized myself with a few too many hours in the hot sun,
or on a court with bad shoes, or on a granite face in
the Berkeley Hills against which my knees collided and bled mercilessly.

After these heroics, this fanciful athletic dabbling,
I return home exhausted but glowing, grateful that I made the effort.

And then my attention slips, like my memory for birthdays,
and time passes, and I return to that frustrated state
between longing and inertia, clinging to the idea
rather than taking the unforkable road that could lead me there.

So now, this new but sadly unoriginal thought of biceps,
of a fabulous ass, of harder and tighter and stronger,
and this crazy machine could do it, it could...
well, this and the rowing one, and the one
that works the thighs, and that one over there,
with the straps and the whatchamacallits,
and that one with the chin-up bar, and the stomach cruncher -
this room is bulging with an apparatus for every muscle group,
and I feel it again, the old daring, that part of me that refuses
the adage of "slow and steady wins the race," that sees only
the shiny, tantalizing dream of prowess and glory,
and I know it will take everything I've got -
not for these three sets of 10, this afternoon's dizzying
obstacle course - but for those that would have to come afterward,
on a return visit, on a less fair day, without the flimsy bravado
that accompanies an early love affair, with my whole heart in my hands.