Saturday, April 30, 2011

Long-Distance Runner

The fact is, I don’t want to have this surgery. And I certainly don’t want to imagine what it will be like if it goes wrong. I don’t want to be the unfortunate disable people barely remember. I bitterly wish I could be back to the way I was before the accident, and not really so athletically different, necessarily. I was trim and fit and strong, not any good at team sports but mostly unhindered when it came to running. That was one way I took after my college roommates, the track stars. I was never talented like them, but I was very eager, very dedicated. Even now, if I could trust my body a little more, I know there’s a lot I could do.

I don’t have to fault myself for feeling this way. The Lord wept in the Garden on the night He was betrayed, as pastors have said to me many times. “Who will free me from the body of this death?” Well, I know the answer to that one. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” I imagine of kind of ecstatic pirouette, a little bit like going for a long run on the beach when you’re so new and fit that your body almost doesn’t know about effort. The apostle Paul couldn’t have meant something entirely different from that. So there’s that to look forward to.

I say this because I really feel as though I’m failing, and not primarily in the medical sense. It’s more about the weeping emotion, the worry. And I feel as if I am being left out, as though I’m some straggler and people won’t remember to stay back for me. I often think about what I can’t do, comparing myself to them. I’ll be on my bicycle, happily riding around the inner loop in Prospect Park, and the sun will be shining, and my legs will be pumping, but all the while I am staring at the runners. I had a dream like that the other night. In the dream, my legs wouldn’t move.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I remember that old Baptist church that my parents took us to, the hard wooden pews, the large cross bathed in light behind the pulpit, looking ten times as remarkable as it would have if a light had not been shining on it. That was always a major part of my idea of a church, the cross. When I was a child I stared up at it until I got tears in my eyes. I had watched the older women do this, stare into the light, shake their heads down, stoke their arms. It seemed the highest compliment one could give to God—deep distress over his mangled son.

Because we were Baptist the cross was blank to signify the resurrection. I had to imagine Christ hanging there, a crown of thorns wound round his head, his chest heaving.

Pastor Hasper stood before us, a lanky six foot four. I thought it fitting his name rhymed. That indeed he had been called to the ministry, the same way some friends of our, the Doctors, were called to the medical field, each child growing up to become Dr. Doctor. My name didn’t rhyme with anything.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Electric Ice

What a day, you said.

We were in Coney Island. It was my first time.

It was also seventy degrees for the first time since I’d been in California.
Who knew winter would last this long?
I guess it’s easier when things are new.

We walked along the boardwalk—the rides were closed.
Based on the signs we were six days too early.

Shopkeepers stood on metal ladders with paintbrushes in their hands, preparing for the harvest.
You stood next to me at the walrus exhibit, preparing for the launch—a moment when the bulbous creature would brush his whiskers against the glass by your face, push off with his fins, and fly backwards, upside-down, like a fat, white torpedo.

The blue rectangle of water before us—the creepy shine of the light against your profile—made you look like an ipod advertisement.
I snapped a picture, which you later threatened to delete.

You thought you’d get sick from the clams. It was lent—I had given up meat, you had given up bread—Nathan’s hot dogs “Since 1912” were out of the question.
We’re not even riding a roller coaster, I assured you.
Instead we walked backwards.
Pushed off the wall of piss by the bathroom sinks,
And floated to the man with the stained cover-alls.
I have 3.98, you said. It’s all you, baby.
The soft serve was called “electric ice.”