Ultra Marathon

Ultra Marathon

“Don’t you wish you were running?”

It bubbled up from her soles
Through the happy feet of mid-morning running
As Pippa glided by with her chatty companions.

“Don’t you wish you were running?” Pippa chirped!

But she and her friends were already out of earshot,
Rounding the bend, out of sight,
Punctuating my unspoken thoughts with their question.

Donald sauntered by
With his Alice-in-Wonderland grin ear to ear,
A six-day beard, sleep-thirsty eyes and news
That our photo from last year’s race
Was taped to his refrigerator.

“Hassan, that’s three hundred and twenty-one miles!”
How’s it going? good buddy!”

Next, Alexander, with his aching shins
Carried my smile around the bend
With his graceful strides, focused somewhere else,
Empty of thought.

“Don’t you wish you were running?”

The irony of my grief remained private
As I greeted the runners and followed their tracks.
Just one year ago that day my family and I
Had returned my father’s ashes to the earth
And planted a tree on top.

As I sat on that green wooden bench
At the 7-Day Race with my many selves running,
Shuffling, walking and chatting at water’s edge,
Black, luminous She danced in my heart
With the joys of early Spring,
Her shimmering leaves quaking
In the still morning light,
Her waving limbs conducting
Countless voices of winged thought

“Don’t you wish you were running?”

The ocean roared
As She opened Her Mouth,
My family, Caroline-Tom-Peter-Mom hand in hand
Eyes brimmed with brave devastation
As Steve poured Dad’s ghostly dust
Into Her Heart,
Where Dad still struggles to walk,
Haltingly crossing Eternity
- Her green living room floor –
Huffing, puffing, rasping wheezing breath
Exhaled to nothingness,
His white boney freckled knuckles
Braced gamely against the universe,
Desperately panting searing prayers
Vanishing like spent exhausted runners
Into empty gaping eyes hushed
At the finish of his marathon.

“Don’t you wish you were running?”

Closing my eyes, She smiled,
Myself speechless, dreaming,
An infant trying to touch everything!
And Dad, like a sleeping housecat,
Opened his eyes, stretched –
Under the Bridge – gone!

– Satyajit Saha.


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