to the knee, post-election, I still take to the trail on foot.
An hour a day in the woods,
two miles tops, is as far as my bad leg goes.
After a while,
the good leg goes, too, from carrying the extra load.
When you inject
trauma into a system, more trauma spins off, ripples out.
with my uneven motion is its downwardly kinetic potential.
On hills, on stairs.
Seemingly small sidewalk cracks. Roots across the path.
The doctor says I have, beneath the bruising,
chondromalacia of the patella, which apparently is Latin for the cartilage
of my kneecap bears me considerable ill will.
Ice helps, plus rest, patience, and retraining my legs
to walk straighter.
If physical therapy works, I’ll resume longer hikes.
If it doesn’t, my knees
will stay mean as my old, sore horse. But the mind, that knapsack
of jumbled dread
and resistance, needs its wanderings. The bipedal walk is a two-beat gait,
the arm-swing a vestige,
a memory of archaic forefeet’s contact with the ground.
To move like a quadruped,
you call that shadow-beat back into being. Add hiking poles:
add two spindly steps to each stride.
I read in Ada Limón’s “Downhearted” that “the heart wants / her horses back.”
Mine sure does. I read
that the new president mocks, among others, the disabled.
What would he say
about me with my dual-cane propulsion system, boosting the step
of whichever leg hurts worse?
Would he put me down like an old, sore horse? My horse
sure wants her heart back,
stilled as it is of its swagger and spooking, its racing and rage.
with my uneven thinking is its downwardly kinetic potential.
But I read that a little kindness
goes a long way. When you inject compassion into a system,
more compassion spins off, ripples out.
I like that, ponder gentleness as pushback. What is the motion
of shoreline against the surf?
Of knee against a hoof? To move like a quadruped, you call
that shadow-muscle into being.
Add four-leggedness, add two kind deeds to counter each blow.
Memory of contact with the ground.
Hours a day in the woods. As far as my old, mean, sore heart can go.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 2.
See all items about Jennifer Bullis