body, Choices, Mindfulness, Poetry

25 Push Ups

Artwork Archive Blog

25 push ups will not get you a promotion.
They won’t get you published
and they won’t get you laid.
25 push up do not walk the dog, stock the fridge, or keep the kid out of jail.
25 push ups do not set the record straight.
They do not cover the rent or replace the busted alternator.
25 push ups do not even give you defined biceps.
You’d need curls and rows and extensions, multiple sets,
and a gym membership.

25 push ups are pretty low fruit as far as daily habits go.
25 push ups get you on the floor.
They stop time.
They press your face into the rug.
25 push ups = 25 kisses on this littered, teeming earth.
25 chances to say yes, okay, yes to this body, yes I hear you.
To say
Please stay here,
just here.
25 chances to ask for the will to go on.
25 decisions to do a thing
and 25 times following through.
25 encouragements.
25 pores opening
to slick, wet you,
and at least that many drops of holy water beading your brow.
25 items you can check off the list.
as it happens
25 lists.
25 times your name whispered fierce and silent
with 25 surges of the heart.
25 keys in 25 ignitions turning 25 wheels carrying you towards the only sustenance
you need
even though you haven’t been able to name the hunger
and still quietly doubt if this will feed it.

25 push ups anyway.

Every day, another win,
a folly really
25 push ups against the awareness of loss,
the weight of suffering and all that needs saving.
This unremarkable lean into rightness,
an attempt at returning to what binds us.
Those arms, that small measure of strength.
Or maybe for you it’s 25 lines of song.
25 brush strokes. 25 prayers or steps
or words of truth
in the ear of one who profits from lies.
Maybe simply 25 breaths.
The force of habit, choosing it,
in yours hands.
Those hands supporting the weight, shaking with effort
but staying the simple, agonizing course
To what good will you put those hands?
What will you lift with the muscle you make stronger with every daily drill?
25 beats of your pulse
falling in sync with the deeper call.
25 chances to listen for the question: How to use that growing power
to stitch up your beloved, broken world?


Image: Artwork Archive

2 thoughts on “25 Push Ups”

  1. Jennifer Zilm : Devotional

    My icon-bearing wall, the paint lightfast,
    refusing the sun’s sleazy degradation.
    Egg tempera is preferable to watercolour
    because the leftover white can be used to
    tighten widening pores or as scramble
    for brunch after matinal devotions.
    We who eat our god prefer our worship
    objects with an edible sheen.
    Out of the church, away from my altar, I find myself
    praying to electric lights, to nostalgia,
    to steam, the gentled railway tracks,
    feast of freighter colour, power of
    placement, oh our sweet lady of basic
    bitch variations. I drink coffee only
    at cafes where beans are locally roasted,
    like Joan of Arc. On a bus shelter
    I saw a sign: Someone took my brother—
    I mean—my bicycle, I must learn how
    to identify an emergency.

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