Here is a submitted poem by Bill Kirk, “dedicated to the runners among your readers but especially to the long-distance, ultra-marathon runners who push their endurance to the limits.”

Life Is (Ultra) Good
By Bill Kirk

She wakes early,
Before first light
And slowly makes her way to the kitchen
To start the pre-dawn coffee ritual.
Her footsteps are muffled by thick wool socks
Pulled on out of habit—
Even in summer.

The house is quiet
And will be for another hour,
Except for the occasional creak or pop
In floors, ceilings and walls,
Just as old bones are also sometimes want to do.
It’s odd those noises always seem to be
Upstairs or in the next room—
Present but never proximate,
As if the house wants the attention—
Letting you know
It should not be taken for granted.

What makes those noises anyway—
In bones and boards?
Do people act like houses as they age?
Come to think of it,
Old ships are like that, too,
What with their snaps and cracks
From movement on the water
Even when safely sheltered.

She feels that way sometimes—
Just an old girl with ancient ribs and joints
Making noises as all the pieces and parts
Settle and resettle into place.
But not this day.

Today the noises don’t matter.
She has no time for feeling old.
For on this day, she has fifty miles ahead of her—
On foot; uphill and down,
Over rocky, narrow trails carved out through
The heavy underbrush of ancient forests
By pack mules, horses and pioneers.

Today, she will join the company
Of comrades, both past and present,
Once again, experiencing a level of
Anticipation, pain and exhilaration
Shared by few.

But now in this quiet moment,
Like no other in its simplicity,
She savors the first steamy sips
Of rich, dark coffee laden with
Fresh cream and sugar—
The resonant warmth radiating from her core.

Cradling the comfortable old mug in her hands,
She closes her eyes, thankful for this day.
Then, as if in prayer,
She imagines her long day’s journey.
The steady cadence stretched out
Over ten hours and 80,000 foot strikes,
Each one leaving its own transitory
Yet enduring mark on the trail—
Each one, the next first step
Of the rest of her life.

It’s almost time to lace ‘em up.
Life is good.

Bill Kirk is a children’s author and freelance writer living in California, and a UND alumnus (1969).  Please visit his website for more about his work and background, at online gambling

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