Penguin's Lament

God, how I hate this feeling.
The shaking — no, the JARRING
of once-firm flesh sliding off once-hard muscle.
Twenty extra pounds cavitating toward the helpless ground
as I lumber overhead.

It hurts.
It hurts.
It-hurts-it-hurts-it-hurts.

So the hell what?
It always did.
This was rarely fun; it was all achievement
It hurt when I was first learning
Lagging, shamed,
behind Mr. “I can run backward better than you can forward”
Unable to feel my numbed calves and feet
Ignoring the summer blaze.

It hurt inching around that quiet tree-lined path
Lungs collapsing
Brain pounding
Reaching the end on willpower alone,
Refusing to be beaten by a damned piece of ground.

It hurt the day I fought the crowds
Gasping up recurrent hills without breaking stride
Flailing down the other side
Forty pounds of stroller pulling me onward
Finishing in personal-record time.

I want her to remember.
I want her to know Mommy took her along
young witness to my pain, my fight,
my eventual success.
She was there every tiny step
every shrieking breath
I want her to remember and be proud.

Still, I hate how I feel when real runners pass me
Demoralized
Defeated
Snail-like, sludging along on squat penguin legs
They cruise by and never look back
Instead they look like it costs them nothing at all.
In that moment I hate them.

It hurts.
It hurts, goddammit!

Yes. It does. So what?
Straighten your back.
Puff out your chest.
You’re here, dammit.
Today you showed up.

Penguin's Lament

JTomblinson

Coppell, United States

  • Artist
    Notes
  • Artwork Comments 2

Artist's Description

I didn’t run, even when chased, until about eight years ago. As described here, running and I have had a love/hate relationship since day 1. I find it effective as a cardio exercise but certainly not always fun. ;)

Since the birth of my daughter, it’s become paramount to me that she see me struggle and succeed, and that I set the kind of healthy example for her that I never really had.

Apologies to the real Running Penguin, John Bingham — “waddle on, friends…”

Artwork Comments

  • mstrace
  • JTomblinson
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