“Life Span”

Surgeon-poet George S. Bascom wrote: “When life strikes a blow of irresistible force or offers a joy both gratuitous and intense, I find a poem may be the only adequate response.”

Like Dr. Bascom, I sometimes experience “a stab of profound pleasure when a poem emerges…”

Life Span

Today, in honor of
John J’s fifty-second birthday,
We swam fifty-two 50s—
Two laps each: up and back;
Two laps each, back to back
On intervals of one minute;
Alternating stroke and free
Through five sets of ten,
Until the final two sprints:
Both butterfly—

Tired arms now pulling hard
Against the heavy water,
Bodies sweeping forward
Twenty-five yards to the far side,
Turning, kicking, grabbing, lifting,
Cheyne-stoking down the final leg—
Hitting the wall at last,
Surfacing in waist deep water,
Goggles raised, panting for breath.

Fifty-two minutes spent,
One for each week of the year,
One for each year of life itself.
In sweep-hand seconds we measure time,
Pace our distance in water-winged yards;
Then hit the wall:  our omega moment,
And exit—leaving still water undisturbed,
Quiet as a frozen lake in winter.

May 8, 2009

Copyright©2009 by Brian T. Maurer

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2 comments on ““Life Span”

  1. DJE says:

    Fine poem in the Bascom tradition. He has some about running that have a similar feel.

  2. howard spiro says:

    george was a classmate at harvard medical school. glad to know his poetic contributions have not gone unnoticed. howard.

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