Jimbo’s Boys, for Coach Jim Deane
We ran intervals around Man Made Lake.
The sand there slows time. Memory gives it some heat,
burns the legs a bit. I’m 43 years old tonight,
and I clearly recall your face,
the way your neck turned, and that smile
you gave at the end of our last interval,
our last gasp of oxygen to get us across the line.
Keep moving, you said. Give me one more lap.
There was no break here, not this time, just a turning over.
We turned the legs over to the head, and then to the arms.
We turned this ancient movement over to some stillness so deep
within us we won't be able to name it years later.
Somehow, in the sticky hot air, we found another lap,
one we didn’t know we had. We found it to impress you,
or each other, or some girl. We found it for our parents.
Or maybe even for ourselves.
We found this thing because we had to,
because we were Jimbo’s boys.
It changed something inside us, that last lap.
The air leaving our lungs was newer, the blood richer.
We were different people, full of hope and possibility.
We carry that last lap with us, and we find it in places
we never expected, places where we need it.
We find it when we realize we’ve lied to ourselves too long.
We find it on snowy rivers, in detox cots and prison visiting rooms.
We find it when we bury friends and family
and when we hear our boy’s first cry, that first breath of life.
We find it in hotel rooms when we think our run is over,
when we realize there’s a new life waiting outside the door.
We find it on moonlit midnight runs covered in soft rain
and in divorce courts and car accidents and doctor’s offices.
We find that last lap when we most need it,
and we learn to carefully unwrap this gift
you helped us discover, the gift of being one of Jimbo’s boys.