The petite young blonde assigned to guide
me through exercises for relief of my shoulder
pain has cold hands, but a well-trained friendliness
I believe she mostly means.
I could be embarrassed by how much stronger
she is, could fit the bill of the old guy, who
brags about how far he could once throw a football
or get grumpier still and say, “Let’s wait ‘til you’re 61,”
but of course I won’t be around to see how that works out.
A right “shoulder impingement” is hardly unbearable,
shooting pain only when I reach too far or long
for something over my head, or behind my back,
and with my family’s history (three siblings
have already beaten cancer, one has not),
I complain though most would agree I can’t.
Even now my younger brother, prostate cancer
gone, has three worse ailments than my single woe.
My mother-in-law has her own cancer battle,
unfair to pick one with an eighty two year old,
but she’s still fighting. My nephew will lose
his stomach in a few days, will hope it takes
its cancer with it. I was aware long before
I met 60 that aging means debilitation, loss;
I’ve already been a regular, with regular lapses
visiting nursing homes, in vain efforts to cheer
any of us up. I still have two children at home,
though, and another two out of the house
who might miss me even more than they imagine.
Beyond blood, for as long as I keep my job
as a teacher, some young people will have to accept
me as mattering, at least for a term, and those
terms are still acceptable to me, since I’m certain
I can live with the pain, or better still,
avoid it almost entirely, if I remember
nevermore to reach too far above
or for anything behind.