Friday, January 21, 2011


Not really the poem I wanted, but it'll do. I was ready to do a marathon in February, but the flesh was weak and the cough was strong. More chances ahead.

You cannot shape but fly
Cannot spin but bear
Your weight on one foot, air,
For an instant, and then the other.
And the message, of course, you know that too.
Three words to the king, no more.
No honing, no embellishment, no scrollwork on the shield.
Nothing that screams or dances
With each strike of your foot to the road
Need be told. Not the
Clash of iron and bronze or
Bronze fallen on the field, not
Iron on bone, no picture
Of blood-washed rocks, no words
Of the bronze smell of blood.
Nothing about the secret signal
From one royal family to another:
Retreat now, and your safety is assured.
Nothing about the goats: Their bleats deafening,
And still not enough to keep the pledge
Of sacrifice made to Artemis. Too many dead men,
Not enough live goats.

You are the messenger, and it is
Only later, over wine, that poets
Will invent you, give you a vision
Of Pan on your path, and your last words.
Now, on the road, you smile:
Getting to Athens, after all, isn't as
Arduous as getting to Babylon.
Your feet drum out the child's rhyme as you run.
Three score and ten, yes, and back again.

Update: Had to fix the ending and add a photo. Was working via the phone last night.
Image: Pan on a mixing bowl, photographed by Sebastia Giralt, creative commons share.


Slothrop said...

So subtle! I think you have to be a fanatical ld runner to get everything out of this 1. Tho I've never run a marathon (1/2's are my favorites...always maim something right before my marathon bid, every year) I understand the tapering that it demands. Great details about the panorama (secret signal, etc.) that must be effaced, & "isn't as / Arduous as getting to Babylon," child's rhyme...brilliant. More than brilliant is how I can hear a distance runner's chop-chop-chop in the rhyme scheme. I'll try playing this in my head on my next run.

At the end of the NCR marathon a few years ago, 1 of the 1st finishers blacked out right next to me & was hauled away by medics. He didn't say "We are victorious" but I got the message nonetheless.

Pam said...

I don't even run from the sofa to the microwave when the Lean Cuisine's done, and i loved it.