by David Salner

Lou Gehrig at the MDA Clinic
in Morgantown, West Virginia

As I enter the waiting room
I see a life-size poster of the iron man.
He is more handsome than Gary Cooper
as he leans on his bat--the knob
pressed into the heel of his hand--
and he is not even thinking that
the round end in the turf
could wander out from under him.
(Oh, how the fit
relax in such awkward positions,
how a schoolgirl can sit
cross-legged on the hard floor
for hours, as if she were Gandhi;
how a boy can hang off of a couch
watching TV upside down
and not even notice it.) And there is not
the slightest suggestion of a crutch
in the way he leans on the bat.

The other patients in the waiting room
browse Family Circle, or their own thoughts,
as if it were their job--even the children,
whose wisdom is like a desert island
(quietly, they assert their existence
although they might never be discovered).

Lou does not connect with them
because he has the eyes of a hero,
limpid, prepared for anything
but this. I try to comfort the iron man
in the poster, but it isn't necessary.
He is still leaning on his bat,
years from discovering
the disease that will bear his name.

-originally appeared in The Cimmarron Review