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Requiem for Worn Muscles 
Elisabeth Tonesberg

when the gym plays no music
you can hear the
methodic thumping
of moving treadmills
and the clanking of
metal on padded floors.

when the gym plays no music
the silence
is magnified.
but everyone is too
with the bumping beat
of their restless hearts

the lights turn into
individual spots
the sweating sea of bodies.

when the gym plays no music
you can hear
the fake adrenaline
and dripping liquid in the form of muscles
pumping through the tireless
veins of the boy
who sees himself
as miniscule.
who cannot help but
compare himself
to the men he sees
at work.

when the gym plays no music
the girl on
the speeding floor
hopelessly attempts
to quiet her
her cheeks are flushed
with embarrassment from each
exhale she exudes, thinking
that her lack of breath means
that she is weak.
feet pounding and legs shaking,
she pushes herself
on an empty stomach
with the hopes
of seeing the numbers
on her stomach and thighs

when the gym plays no music
it is silent, but it is not quiet.
for the thoughts
of hurting people
swarm around
like buzzing bees
a hive in their own minds
drumming and repeating
that the reflection
they see
is not enough.

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