I was in great shape before the fight—
ran 20 miles before breakfast,
completed rounds of pushups,
sit-ups, chin-ups and rapid-fire teeps
on my heavy bag.
But I was no match for the flu virus
that hit below the belt with relentless
fury and packed a mean wallop to lay me low.
It was the same virus that killed my grandfather
in the epidemic of 1918.
The record-breaking fevers, aching joints
and a galloping cough that precluded sleep,
even caused my teeth to hurt and cry: “Foul!”
Breathing steam over a pot of boiling water
and the wild cheers of family and friends
kept me in the fight until I found my balance—
bobbing and weaving for a counter attack.
Battered and bruised, I fought back
with a streak of homicidal violence
I never knew was in me.
I flattened the virus to the count of ten.