V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




       "Women who exercise in front of mirrors feel worse . . . ."

It's nothing so crude as pumping iron,
shoving cold metal up and down.
It's a way to twist and strain
muscles toward new definitions.

And that's pretty much
what she does.  But it's more than
pushups, leg lifts, sit ups,
chin ups, step ups.

Among the tangle of cables and benches,
dumbbells and free weights,
the chrome promises
that untarnished self.

A few more repetitions
and she'll be wealthy
cashing-in the sweaty diamonds
popping out of her skin.

And there's the vitamins,
mineral supplements,
the roots and herbs that guarantee
her transmogrification.

Always on the same losing end,
facing herself each afternoon
after work in the floor to ceiling,
wall to wall mirrors.

They never release their gaze.
No pain no gain.  No room
for running away
from mirrored years.

The heavy breathing never gets better.
The mirrors never double over
with exhaustion.  Fitness
the healthiest way to die.

© by Walter Bargen


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