Solo Track

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For many years my wife and I have enjoyed walking and jogging the Manawatu Gorge Track, often at the end of a working day. We talk and listen to birdsong mixing with our slightly out-of-breath exertions. People of all shapes, sizes and ages share the native bush-clad track. Among these were, quite often, a couple – of indeterminate years but obvious fitness – to whom we nodded acknowledgment but no more. Recently I twigged that ‘they’ were now just ‘him’. After a few solo passings I began to wonder whether she was not there because of accident, or infirmity, or dislike of the whole exercise. Or maybe she had left him, by design or permanently gone from this world. I wrote in the third person to try and see through his eyes, to crystallise how he might wander, trekking alone.

Solo Track

He can walk where

He wants to now,

No need to confer, defer

Arguing which path

Should extend them, without

Too much pain

Or ache the next day

When the bottle’s empty.

 

He can run ahead now,

No need to wonder,

Should he be pushing

Her up the steep

Challenge in front of them,

Without shoving so

Much that they both

Slide away.

 

He can sit down

In silence now,

Screen and cross

Word off, no need

To trawl the net,

To trip over the

Reason, he has all

The time in the world.

– Jeff Brown

Jeff Brown is a Paediatrician at Palmerston North Hospital and in the community of MidCentral DHB. He is one of those who started The Medicine Stories Project and has summoned up the courage to submit some work of his own.