Strength

By DENISE DUHAMEL

 

I’d started a strength training class ($25 a pop)
after my mom’s hands no longer worked, after her arms
hung weak by her sides and she didn’t have the power
to pull up her pants. For two years I’d thought
about the class but was too cheap to sign up
when I could go to free yoga-on-the-beach
which met at the same time. Now, because of COVID-19,
the class can no longer meet. Now, because of COVID-19,
the beach is closed—not only to yoga, but also to walking
and sunbathing and swimming. Not so long ago
I stretched bands across my chest and held balls
between my knees lowering my legs
onto a mat next to other women my age,
some of whom had been in car accidents
or had hip replacements, and others who, like me,
had never thought much about their muscles.
We’d talk about where to get the best Greek salad—
Giorgio’s, now closed—or the hazards
of driving at night. My mom dozed
on and off in the nursing home, using all
of her strength, her training to stay positive—
no more visitors, no more mass, no more matinees—
as she fiddled with her flip phone,
her numb fingers trying to call me.

 

[Purchase Issue 21 here.]

 

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Second Story. Her other titles include Scald, Blowout, Ka-Ching!, Two and Two, Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Kinky. She and Maureen Seaton have co-authored four collections, the most recent of which is CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New). She and Julie Marie Wade co-authored The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose. She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.

Strength

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