Gym Music | Shea Handa

2 mins read


Where else can you watch a bicep shake
like water trembling above a cup’s lip,

or help lift weight from a stranger’s chest,
watch him rise from a bench, and,

with one look, affirm your life?—  

not the way a singer in a shaft of light
closes his eyes in the middle of a song

and sings softer as your own heart
swells and flutters, but after

when he opens them,
and sees the people around him standing,

and his eyes meet yours, 
and he keeps singing.


This morning, from a treadmill near the window,
I watch the thin, nearly-bare limbs

of an elm tree dip, as if they were fishing poles
aligned on a shore, bent in unison,

and at sharp angles downward, not by the wind but
by the swift, simultaneous

gut-pull of salmon—so that suddenly
I imagine both young men and women,

reclining and talking loudly in lawn chairs,
who notice and rise up like creatures,

propelled now by pure instinct and purpose,
and hurry at once to the lake’s edge,

and heave back the poles,
and reel in the fish that come bumping and slapping

over the smooth stones and twigs like weaklings,
like the skinny, ineffectual limbs of a body. Tell me—

where else is running in place an escape? 


Have you seen him?

The young man with limbs
like unbaked breadsticks,

who flexes both arms in the squat rack
after lifting the bar

and two five-pound plates 
three times above his head—

have you seen him pump his fists,
one after the other, as if

the air were his choir? As if 
a body drenched in sweat

is how it sings to itself. As if
a body out of breath is a soft voice.