Treadmill

Does she wonder what I ‘m looking at? My eyes sidle, lagging behind hurried steps, and I watch as she runs in place. Her arms and legs do not float so much as flop, and flounder. They imply the weight of limbs useless under the prickle of pins and needles; it is all that I can do not to stare. I want to ask her limbs, beg them for their secret – discover the ease with which they assume this unashamed gracelessness.

Can I stop? Move sideways – and watch, as elbows and fists describe lazy ovals in the sullen air. Watch, as feet suspend heavily, every time a beat behind on that spinning rubber track. She does not advance, is instead pulled along – rubber-banded to the machine.

I am struck by the contrast. There is none of that runner’s taut energy in her steps; no spring-like tension to every foot fall. But I am struck. Lazy, loping, long-lobed lady – tell me the secret of your languid limbs!

It is best she did not ask – for I, red-faced, unable to explain, would surely be misunderstood.

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