Heart Rate Monitor

by Laryssa Wirstiuk

October is the best month
for distance runs, but
I never really know
what’s best for me until
I’ve run away from it.

Confession: I hate running
alone, so if you’re going
to stay over, you better be
prepared with sneakers to do
my scenic, three-mile loop.

You’ve all been faster
than me, sprinting uphill
while I amble at least
fifty feet behind, knowing
my shins and hamstrings

will hurt the next
day. You all do it
without even trying,
traversing sidewalk cracks,
even at early dusk:

my blindness. The sweetest
gesture any of you
ever made for me
was cleaning my wounds
when I fell, palms forward,

as if to signal, “No, I don’t
need you. Stay away.”
Any man would start pushing
himself after a display
like that, reaching new miles

while I remain faithful
to my heart rate monitor,
never overstressing the steady
syllables of my vital organ, always
asking: challenge, or betrayal?

Laryssa Wirstiuk lives in Jersey City, NJ with her miniature dachshund Charlotte Moo. She teaches creative writing and writing for digital media at Rutgers University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Crab Fat, Gargoyle Magazine, East Coast Literary Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. You can view all her work here: www.laryssawirstiuk.com.