poetry by Diane Elayne Dees

Diane is a writer and psychotherapist who lives in Louisiana. She publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women’s professional tennis.


Pulling Brian

He mounts the sled and offers me the cables.
I take the handles, pull the slack, and fall
back while squatting low, then slowly rise.
The muscles in my legs and hips take over,
and suddenly, I’m pulling twice my weight.

My trainer’s a big man, the sled is heavy,
yet each time, it’s a rhythmic, fluid journey.
This comes as no surprise: I pulled a man
through years of broken vows and shattered nerves,
through crazy-making stories, gaslit lies,
sadistic plots, dismissal, and neglect.
I pulled him until part of me was dead.

I cannot see behind me. Now I’m forced
to trust the man I’m pulling to protect
me. I breathe into the pull and pray
that when I’ve gotten past the final line,
he will not let me crash into a wall.


Sled Summary

Hands against metal
Feet against turf
Legs against iron
Heart against weight
Mind against doubt
Breath against time
Woman against self


Learning Form

My trainer has insisted he be able,
at any time, while I propel the sled,
to drink tea off of my back—a sturdy table,
but I don’t think it could handle jam and bread.