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In physical therapy, they
stressed strengthening the
area around the wound.
So first I started with
the biceps and triceps, and
then I moved to the ribs and chest
and shoulders.
And finally, exhausted, I
stepped onto the treadmill.


That was what would help
my heart, they said. Slow,
steady work until the pieces
rejoined and became strong
again. It hurt at first, as
old pain does. Hurt like hell,
re-living that old pain.


And I felt my feet.
And my legs.
And my chest–my breath–
lungs ready to explode.
And my heart beat steady–
she beat so steady.


No more aches/tears/sobs:
Just breath and a beat,
breath and a beat,
breath and a beat.
And sometimes it still aches.
And sometimes weak pieces
break away again.
And sometimes I just watch
them drift away like dandelion
seeds on the wind, because
I know they’re gone always,
planting love in lives I’ll never
encounter. And it’s awful-good,
so damn awful-good.


And I keep working my
ribs, my triceps and biceps. And
I strengthen my shoulders
and chest. And I keep
running. Some day it’ll stop
hurting so much.


Until then, it’s just
breath and a beat.
All I’ve got is
breath and a beat,
breath and a beat,
breath and a beat.


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