I don't box as much as I used to. My gym moved the heavy bag to a crowded spot, the speed bag is always deflated, and there's no room to jump rope. I know: excuses, excuses. Plus, I'm developing a strange addiction to TRX, still doing boot camp, and loving the hot yoga class I discovered. The thing about my exercise routine is that it's never routine. I like change. I like variety. I like a dash of fun. But in reading today's poem, I remembered why I loved boxing. It's expansive, in the sense that it widens the way you see the world. It's not solitary, although the training can be. It's tough, but not solemn, work. Like love itself.
Teaching the Girls
by Janice Lynch Schuster
After dinner the girls shadow box
In the kitchen. There is hardly space
For their joy, their blonde energy
As they bob and weave near the counter.
I warn them away from the burners,
coffee pot and knives.
Metaphors fly; they are merry and warm,
I am their crazy coach, reciting
Poetry and combinations
As what’s left of dinner burns.
Chin down, guard up!
I mimic my trainer. Light on your feet,
Move! I’ve been training them for years
For the punches life will land,
The world beautiful and brutal,
Everyday and extraordinary.
I want them ready to slip
Through it as we do this night,
So wired by their own lives,
Nothing crowding them in a corner
The whole arena of my love
Resounding in their laughter.
---printed with permission of the author, all rights reserved by her.
Janice Lynch Schuster is the author of a new collection, "Saturday at the Gym," due out in April. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore and The Broadkill Review. Her essays have appeared in The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on how to improve care at the end of life, and is senior writer for the Altarum Institute. A mother of six, she enjoys boxing, walking, and writing. She'll be giving a reading at The Writer's Center on April 17, if you'd like to hear more.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Andi at a wrung sponge