The Running Girl

It was early morning, the hour before rush,

the quiet time when people are at home,

getting ready to do what they are going to do

with their day.

I saw her from a distance.

A runner, coming up the hill towards me. I saw

a figure wearing a white peaked cap

and something in salmon pink, close fitting,

three quarter leggings and long sleeves.

What I saw was grace.

She moved quickly but not fast, stepping up

the hill as though it wasn’t there. Her arms

hung loose, hands held out to the front,

shoulders relaxed and square, moving easily,

comfortable. Her legs swung from her hips

in a steady rhythm, regular and unhurried.

When she came closer, I could see she was

barely breathing.

Her body moved in a straight line,

no rising or falling or rolling to the side.

Just running.

Her hair was plaited and tucked under the hat,

and there was a sheen to her

fine, dark-chocolate skin,

though it was not sweat.

It was the glow of health, vitality,

pure, perfect humanity.

I could see, then.

This day was the best day of her life.

She would never be better, more alive,

more beautiful.

I had an urge to tell her this, to stop her

as she passed and say to her,

“You look wonderful,” and

“You will never be better than you are right now.”

But I didn’t.

In these times, in these woke days,

strangers, old men,

people like me,

can’t say things like that

to people like her.

Even if the words are true.

She passed me by and I watched her disappear

and said nothing.

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