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and I don’t shovel goat shit or haul logs out of the forest,
now that I don’t have sex every night or carry two fat boys,
one on each hip, up small mountains,
I have to go to exercise class.
Thank God for Zoom and pajamas
and the really bad eyesight that lets me forget
what everyone else can see all too clearly.
And our teacher is kind; she is like a kindergarten mom
holding a cupcake tray. No one ever riles her
with hard questions such as Why should I care?
Some days I even believe in my husk,
feel a sort of scraggly, dogged pride
when I’m in the midst of squatting for eternity
or doing horrible pushups and the teacher is cooing,
“You’re superwomen!” and we’re all on mute
so we can’t talk back even if we had the breath to do it.
Lord, I don’t know what I’m really writing about—
Maybe it’s fear of death, maybe it’s mourning
because the man I love snores so hard
that we can’t sleep in the same bed all night,
maybe it’s the sight of my mother,
shoulders curled in like a toad’s,
ensconced in her chair, diddling on her phone,
too indifferent to put her dishes into the sink.
I want to be alive, aglow. I want what I can’t have,
a chance to reprise a body that sings to a heart,
but instead, morning after morning, I struggle
through crunches and dips, waiting for a voice
to call out from the aether: “You can stop now.”
Copyright 2022 Dawn Potter
Dawn Potter’s many books include Chestnut Ridge (Deerbrook 2019). She lives in Maine.