The scrag-end of the storm bites
Its way through my various layers of clothes
Screws my back into untenable postures
So I have to lie on the bed to bend it
Into a useable shape again.
Decades of feeling immortal and
Playing ancient games
Have done this.
Prescribed exercises make a man feel old
Even if the relief of them is touchable
And the stoop reduced and the pain
Bearable. Thirty miles a week
Doesn’t feel enough
To bring immortality
Back to these bones
I long to grab a sword again,
To pull a mask over my head,
To hear the clash of metal on metal,
The ringing that endures even after
Swords have disengaged.
There is a path past
This contagion and
Into gloved combat,
The respectful raising and lowering
Of the weapon, the bow,
The fektehilsen as they call it where
I first held these street weapons
For street fights and enough pressure
To force a blade four inches
Into living flesh, to draw imaginary
Blood with a blunted blade.
The storm draws its scrag-end away
With it, and invades another country,
The sky clears and my mind with it.
The kit bag under the bed will have
The dust blown from it.
fektehilsen – fencers’ greeting