h1

original writing: running in the middle

September 11, 2012

Been doing a lot of hiking in the past year, the height of which was a week-long string of seven day hikes in the Chic Choc mountains of the Gaspesie, some nine hours east of Montreal. I went in thinking I’d be thrilled to show up and limp through say three or four hikes, sitting out the others with reading and writing at the campground that was our base camp for the whole week. But I sat out only one day, enough to fortify a gammy ankle. By the end of the week, I had finally figured out what to do with the hiking poles. By the last group outting, I ran with the fast crowd and — gloriously — kept up, despite a style that I will describe as tiny Frankenstein lurching down a forest trail carrying barely controlled spears. The success was in large part to my training, three four times a week on Mont Royal where, to my further surprise, I have begun running. The two experiences have me thinking a lot about the relationship between the earth of these well-trodden trails and the bodies that pound, leap, shuffle and glide over them. At a writing retreat last weekend I started working on some eventual something. Here, for your perusal and maybe glint of pleasure, is where it starts.

Running in the Middle

Foot

Root

Rock

Boot

Bend

Hip

Gravel

Slip

Pole

Brace

Pivot

Plant

Plunge

Knee

Give

Pause

Gather

Again again

For one year my unmade decision has been to move and keep moving. And since childhood, all movement has always accelerated to speed, to the front, to win

The bite in the lung

The air curling in on my wake

The blur of the earth

The ground pushed behind me, behind me, behind me

But my knees make new noises and my hips clench like fists

So like a thumb boring into a shoulder knot, I am pressing a new momentum onto myself.

Running, but just barely.

And the surprise? Instead of suffocating as I fall in, behind, surrounded, I find myself feeling part of the larger animal of the pack.

The calf muscle in front of me a metronome

The lot of us, known to each other or not, rounding the same turns, claiming the same earth, pushing it back for the next to claim, release

Silent except for ragged breath. Still and quiet and moving, safe in the middle of the pack.

Foot

Root

Rock

Boot

Bend

Hip

Gravel

Slip

Pole

Brace

Pivot

Plant

Plunge

Knee

Give

Pause

Gather

Again again

dd

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