A middleaged man named Doherty
had the locker next to mine.
A detective. He showed me
scar tissue near his heart
where a bullet had gone in.

A new member joined, a woman
who was doing physiotherapy.
She was beautiful to watch
at Leg Curl and Leg Extension,
straddling a seat or lying down.

The tone of the whole place changed.
When she came, Doherty would run over
and be solicitous: how was she feeling today,
and she mustn’t overdo it.

Then she no longer came, she was cured,
and everything reverted:
the young men blowdrying their hair
assiduously, the old
telling their dirty stories.

And Doherty working out
at Pullover, Double Chest,
and Torso Arm … lifting weights
as though it were he or they
in a struggle to the death.

Louis Simpson

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 3, on page 54
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