the animal wants badly to be pet but is too afraid to get close enough to allow it

a woman runs on
a treadmill, the same
one every time.

she wears
the same
purple blue
tank top.
the same
cropped black
pants.

once she gets
to running, she
moans and shrieks
as though orgasmic.

i turn up the sound
in my ears,
trying to drown
out her exhortations.

many years ago
i walked along a
dry brown wooden dock.
it was warm and
i wore shorts.
my rubber boots,
folded down
to the ankle.
a woman i
know well,
walked a few paces
behind me.
she noticed the
veins in my calves
that plagued my
worried mind
with their bulging.
she remarked,
“your veins
make you look
like you’re a
body builder,
like you’re in
really good shape.”
it was meant as
a compliment
and i took it with
some annoyance.

i have made
my life a shrine
to the paradox of
nonexistent existence;
a pursuit of
disappearance
in tandem with
recognition.
her observance of
my legs,
their visible veins,
it reminded me that
i exist.
reminded me that
we all exist
in ways that
we often might
rather not.

downstairs
in the lobby,
i can feel the
subtle vibrations
of the woman’s feet
pounding on
the treadmill.

i can hear her rapture.

i wonder at
her desire,
the pain she
puts herself through,
in her efforts to
exist in her body.

off the lobby,
in the room
with the weights,
i walk with
exhausted swagger,
my sweat
darkening
my shirt
to the shade
of a heart.

it is mostly quiet here.

there are mirrors
all along the walls.
i see the veins
bulge from my calves
as i walk.
i see my
reflection
in every
direction.

there are
a few other people
in here with me,
none of us
ever looking directly
at the other.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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