Joe Benevento – Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

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.

 

 

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