Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Frozen shoulders

My shoulders are not working. I have bilateral frozen shoulder.  When I lift my arms up from each side they get to a certain point, which is less than 90 degrees, then there comes the burn of 1000 bee stings and the muscles lock into position for several seconds. The pain in the joint makes me think of the movie Alien, like something is trying to rip through my skin and escape. All I want is for my shoulders to once again be my body’s cranes, to lift and move as though operated by a set of precision hydraulics, to flow with liquid motion and without pain.

I visit Beulah at her leaning clapboard shanty. She knows how to make things work better and, after listening, disappears behind a filthy, red, wool blanket that hangs over the doorway behind her. She returns with a bag, tells me, “Pour this into bath water that is just below the point of cooking you and soak, soak your whole self, soak yourself until the water chills.”

 Once home, I go directly to the bath, hunch over the tub, sprinkle the contents into the stream of steaming water and watch it dissolve. I am not familiar with the aroma that throws itself at my face, but it is pleasant, flowery, yet a bit of sourness, easy to inhale. After a couple minutes of watching and listening, the faucet seems to release a waterfall; a weak, almost sinister laugh gurgles from my throat as the tub becomes my cauldron. I kneel down and swirl the hot mixture, then slowly climb in.

The hot wraps around me, pulls and sinks me to the middle of my neck. Soon, I am on a mountain top with Sister Maria, we are singing, dancing, running, our arms waving in silken flight. My shoulders roll and flow, my arms rise and fall in smooth undulation.

Maria is tireless. She turns and runs in the other direction. From behind a large granite boulder, Beulah appears and gives me a couple green tablets, “Take this goat weed, the nun is not pure.” Her hand and body evaporate as the offering drops into my palm. The day is short, I hurry after Maria and our play continues until we fall on the thick, soft green of the meadow. She begins to tell me about edelweiss, and how it grows in locations that are often dangerous to reach, along the rocky edges of mountains. She says if I could pick some for her, it would prove my love. Her voice is a harp, sends sleep to me from its soft curves.

When I wake I am in the desert, coughing hot wind, blowing dust out of my mouth, my cheeks stuck to my teeth. A few yards in front of me is a pool of water. I claw my way over the sand and fall in. The water is cool and fragrant, sweet, sour.

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