john stephen akhwari 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t keep up with my own life

let alone the lives of those around me

The lives of those who love me

and God forbid

of those I love

Without meaning to

my life has become the image that

haunted me in my wide-eyed post-adolescence

Of the Tanzanian marathoner

John Stephen Akhwari

who finished last in Mexico City in 1968

Yeah

just YouTube it

The point is

I want to grab onto life

hold on for all I’m barely worth

Or run

with endurance

and the speed

not just to finish

but to win

Yet on days like this

and most others

it is all I can do to look at life like a

bandaged

limping man

sweat-drenched and bloody

shuffling in the dark towards the finish of a race

long over

but not for himself

Who

when asked why he did not quit a race

long-lost

said

“My country did not send me five-thousand miles to start the race.  My country sent me five-thousand miles to finish the race.”

And so

I look up

into the near-empty stadium

and to a victor’s stand

long since abandoned by those with medals won

and put one more foot in front of one more other

This race almost done

Copyright © 2015 William S. Friday