3.22 Miles, 32 Minutes, 10/02/12
First run through crush of leaves.
Featherlight piles of aspen, yellow litter
of locust. My runner’s mantra in time
with my breath – Breathing in, I calm myself;
Breathing out, I smile. Calming.
Smiling. The long history of runners without
this luxury. Bare feet that have slipped through sand.
Booted feet skimming or crunching through snow.
In some languages feet are the hands that touch
the ground. The way the potato is the apple
of the earth. The heel strike. The push off
the ball of the foot. The scenery. The grey horse
on the dun hill, which another runner may see
as sniper distance. The truck exhaust, which,
Thank God, isn’t the smoke of burning bodies
or villages. The boy I pass at the school bus stop might
in another world be holding a rifle, a machete,
instead of a lunchbox. I have this luxury to utter
mantras. Slow is the new fast. To wear out
hundred dollar shoes every 300 miles. To stop
when I want. Slow when I want. Search
for the deer on the ridge with the eyes
of the curious, not the starving.
If I say I am running for my life it is merely
a metaphor about health. A pithy saying
painted on a gym wall. I am lucky.
There is no heart pound of the pursuer
behind me. Just me. Just the foot strikes.
ABOUT THE POET
Shaindel Beers’ poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon’s high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary (http://contrarymagazine.com). A Brief History of Time, her first full-length poetry collection, was released by Salt Publishing in 2009. Her most recent collection, The Children’s War and Other Poems, was released by Salt in February this year. She is currently working on a short story collection. Find out more at http://shaindelbeers.com .