In the gym the music plays


In the gym the music plays
And we all move to the beat.
I sit on a machine
I move to the beat.
There are young and old in the gym
The young made more beautiful still
through the grace of fashion.

I sit on a machine
I move to the beat.
Sometimes I’m lost in flights of fancy –
nostalgic dreams.
Then I see him – a reflection
Shaped in the clear glass –
the clean clear glass in front of me.

He’s built like a barrel –
– the kind of barrel I think they use
for flavouring whisky.
He must be about seventy
maybe less. I think:
He’s taking himself back to the past,
His past.

Oh! There’s something written on his t-shirt …
Backwards, I read it: It’s ‘Lonsdale.’
He’s wearing boxing gloves
I can see him but he cannot see me.
He is a reflection.
And then he moves:
He jabs away at a big black punchbag.

Jab, Jab, Jab …
Though, a strange thing: they are
almost gentle jabs – just enough
to make the punchbag sway.
He sways too – they both sway
and I think of a dance, a waltz, softly, a tango.
And the music plays.

He moves and jabs
He moves and jabs.
The punch bag arcs – slowly – like
the curving tips of tree tops.
And then he backs away –
and leans on the ropes of memory.

He moves again; I catch sight of his profile.
But wait! I’ve seen his face before!
His nose – a sloping crag –
His face – forged from earth, from iron
From the granite gravestones.
I can see him but he cannot see me;
He is a reflection.

He’s a rock of a man –
and I’ve seen him before!
Yes – I’ve seen him walk out of
Great Expectations.
He’s Magwitch, he’s Abel Magwitch –
Out from the marshes, where the wind hits hard –
But he’s with me now, a ghost – but not.

When all his rounds are done
When all is said and done –
Someone passes him and stops.
They greet each other and
the boxer speaks.
How are you?’ ‘Good to see you.’ ‘You OK?’ –
All in the sweetest muffled tones
of wild honey.

Abel Magwitch – the music plays –
And we move to the beat.



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