Endurance Training

Cate Lycurgus

As I become accustomed at last to gray dawn and its labyrinth—
            a fine-etched map of running paths, routes crystallized 

on dormer glass—but before I’ve decided to trundle my sleep,
            lace wire cleats, and brace against a crush of ice

that squeaks beneath my gait, I’m unawake and unsure how
            I came to rove this place (where sky always has a bone

to pick, picks one to shatter across the frost, or starts a thaw
            to flush my dusty freckles out of hiding), chafing

at soles. Like plum pumps I owned years ago, peep-toes I couldn’t
            stand in, or let go, had to go on dancing in, though

they guaranteed a barefoot dawn, or being baby-doll-carried
            home, and smarting all the way. Next day, I’d slit

pillbugs of blood blistering my feet. Race through every
            rendition of sleet, however numb—a daffodil may break

the snow’s omniscient fondant, its drive less daft than mine
            this morning—I’m set to outpace, so erase, my seasoned course

of failure. I do this without fail. A hundred times I’ve cut cross
            lawns, where raisined moles blot the sod with dark missurfacing.

I trip. And grit is in the going, in the tunnel-down deep—
            but god is in the gasp, and then, the dead-end as it springs.