SQUATTING by James Swansbrough

By the end of week two I needed an outlet.
For frustration, helplessness, the present.

The waiting area’s goldfinch puzzle still
lacked two pieces on the fifth completion.

I’d given up improving the kitchenette coffee brews &
the busy road outside hospice lacked a shoulder to run.

When I inquired at the gym down the street
the receptionist had to call over a manager.

Manager said he had to call the owner.
His forearms veined from his sleeves like a tributary.

Unusual request, I guess: Random out-of-towner
asking to use the gym for an indeterminate short term.

Possibly even just today.
Friend dying, etc.

Manager said the owner asked $20 a session.
Sure, fine, thanks.

Receptionist approached me at the squat rack &
palmed me a card like a drug dealer.

These are a January promo but they’re good for a seven-day trial.
Stupid not to offer it in October too.

I asked him what the manager would say.
He’s probably already spent your $20 toward whey at GNC, screw him.

I thanked him for the unexpected kindness.
The card had seven squares, & the desk hole-punch was star-shaped.

My friend died just a few days later.
I never informed or returned to the gym.

Occasionally I’ll wonder if the receptionist remembered my visits.
My brief trial.

I still have the half-punched card stored away somewhere.
Like the lost belt of Orion.

Photo used and adapted under CC.