Writer Michael Powelson introduced me to thebeautifuldue — the gospel according to john.
(Michael shared an essay last year with the Essay on Childhood project: http://michaelpowelson.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/the-best-medicine-2/)
I loved reading this poem the first time and have re-read it several times since. It is a combination by the poet of “several male sources.” While it could be the experience of just one man’s childhood influence, it pulls together pieces of various lives to tell the story that may very well speak many men.
I encourage writers for this year’s project to consider unusual ways you might tell your story using creative nonfiction or even poetry if that feels right. It needs to be your story, but some truths are more clear with non-linear narrative or even prose poems.
Enjoy (and read more than once) weak but strong….
weak but strong….‘Your shoulders are shit, Sport. Probably all those dips.’ Doctor Welch first called me ‘sport’ when I was thirteen. I had wanted to put on a little muscle, maybe go out for football or wrestling, so Mom took me in for a physical. Any excuse to see Peter Welch M.D. was okay by her. She’d had a grand crush on the man ever since Dad left. I discovered later that was the main reason for Dad’s adios. Peter Welch had played football at SMU before med school. Mom would always emphasize he played ‘tight end’ and giggle. I love the woman but she’s never had both oars in the water. ‘But you said bodyweight exercises were the way to avoid injury. What about primum non nocere? No harm?’ I felt compelled to remind the physician of his sworn oath, a veiled attempt to justify my chosen vows of faithfully beginning and ending each day for ten years with chin ups and dips, the latter my forte. They were my lauds and vigils, repetitive ups and downs, blood-flushed prayers that Dad might come to his senses and run home. As a senior in college I performed 6 sets of 25 reps twice a day. That Christmas I learned my father had died back east, alone. ‘Hippocrates, Schmockrates. Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness, Sport. That’s the oath to swear by.’