Poetry 2011 / Volume 42

Riddle — James Valvis

The aloof, thin woman with the blonde hair
glides onto her treadmill, taps panel buttons
like a musician playing a harpsichord,
and begins jogging with perfect posture,
hands balled like diamonds, so you know
she’s coasted since birth and will until death,

while on the creaking treadmill next to her,
a frumpy woman wipes ooze from her eyes,
her face ugly, as she labors to walk,
the back of her shirt an Rorschach inkblot
of tearing claws, her sour breath wheezing, weak,
as she stabs at the pause to stop her whole life.

Just one of these two women smiles at you.
The surprise, and the riddle, is which one.

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