Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem A Day Challenge for April 13

April 13--For today's prompt, write a poem that remembers an old relationship. This relationship does not have to be romantic. It could be a departed (or estranged) family member, old friend, former teacher, or even just someone you briefly encountered. And the relationship may have even been one-sided or seemingly insignificant to the other person.

They Called Him Giuseppi
By Bill Kirk

They called him Giuseppi—
An old man by almost any standards.
His deeply tanned and
Weathered face and hands,
Left no doubt he had seen
More than his share of work
In the Mediterranean sun.

And yet, he had a certain
Athleticism about him, as if
He knew his way around
A cinder track and knew even far more
About the runners who raced there.

With a quiet nonchalance,
Giuseppi knowingly watched
From his perch high among
The irregular tiers of the
Hand cut stone benches.
His eyes were on a lone runner
Gliding around the ancient oval,
As so many thousands had done
Over countless centuries before.

The runner’s smooth stride hid almost any
Imperfection in his training regimen.
But Giuseppi sensed something out of kilter.
The straight-aways were fine—
Each footstrike found its intended mark
As a bowman would send
His arrow to its distant target.

But as the runner leaned into each curve,
Giuseppi could almost feel the
Imperceptible twinge himself.
There it was—a tightness in the calf
And an ever-so-slight pull in the hamstrings
Which flattened the heel—dulled the rebound.

Yet, the runner kept up his pace,
Through the long curve, once again
Pushing into the home stretch.
How many more repeats would he do?
Giuseppi knew he would disagree with
The runner’s automatic answer—
“Oggi, faccio altri dieci.”—“Ten more today,” he said,
Because that’s just what he did on Wednesdays.

“Basta! Oggi non piĆ¹. Vieni qui!” Giuseppi beckoned
With his voice and a single palm-down gesture.
Giuseppi knew instinctively an interruption today
Would pay dividends in days to come.
They walked together to a small wooden locker
Down near the edge of the track.
Releasing the latch, Giuseppi revealed
The tools of his trade inside the cabinet—
Oils, lotions and salves in dust-caked vials and tubes.

He warmed a small dollop of pungent salve
Between his leathered hands.
In silence and with a surgeon’s precision,
He pulled and pushed into the belly of the muscle.
Alternately using the edges of
Thumbs, knuckles, palms and finger tips,
He teased out the hidden pain lying
Deep inside, waiting to be exposed.
At first skeptical and wishing for its end,
The runner soon relished this
Trackside treatment, eager for more
As the stabbing pain subsided
With each smooth stroke.
Inside fifteen minutes,
The lone spectator was done.

Then, just as quickly and quietly
He was gone—as if he had never been—
And would never be seen again.
Only the memory of his image
And his handiwork remained
As an ever present reminder
Of the man they called Giuseppi….

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