At the Gym

At the Gym

At the Gym

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 2 1999 3:30 AM

At the Gym

This salt-stain spot
marks the place where men
lay down their heads,
back to the bench,

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and hoist nothing
which need be lifted
but some burden they've chosen
this time: more reps,

more weight, the upward shove
of it leaving, collectively,
this sign of where we've been:
shroud-stain, negative

flashed onto the vinyl
where we push something
unyielding skyward,
gaining some power

at least over flesh,
which goads with desire,
and terrifies with frailty.
Who could say who's

added his heat to the nimbus
of our intent, here where
we make ourselves:
something difficult

lifted, pressed or curled.
Power over beauty,
power over power!
Is muscle truth then,

and all you need to know?
There's something more
tender, beneath our vanity,
our will to become objects

of desire: we sweat the mark
of our presence onto the cloth.
Here is some halo
the living made together.

Mark Doty is a poet whose most recent book is Firebird (click here to buy it). Click here to read his Slate "Diary."