Sweet Charioteers —by Jinny Batterson
(An earlier version appeared in the 2014 Silly Tree Poetry Anthology, “The Way the Light Slants.”)
I’ve only seen him a couple of times,
Hurtling along the creekside greenway,
One hand holding the lead that connects him with
His galloping mid-sized mutt,
The other steering his wheelchair on the uneven asphalt.
We’ve exchanged brief smiles
And hurried “hello’s” as he rushes by,
This veteran of some unknown war, accident, or illness
Whose exuberance in his morning runs with his
Four-legged sidekick prods other
Joggers and walkers into grins
Whenever we cross his path.
For a long time after the automobile accident,
I avoided going to see her, preferring memories
Of her irrepressible college self,
Back when her legs still worked
And her back was straight.
I recall now how the less-injured husband who left
When coping with his post-traumatic wife got too hard
Had himself been temporarily crippled at their wedding–
Hobbling down the aisle in his modified dress uniform,
One pant leg let out to cover the heel to knee cast.
Whenever I talk with her on the phone,
Her words tumble out in a fast staccato,
Racing the pain to a draw.
Once I finally gather the courage to visit,
She greets me at the entrance to her accessible kitchen,
Then traces graceful figure eights on the terrazzo,
Wheeling about assembling refreshments,
Consummate hostess still.
Sweet charioteers, indeed, these two.