Valentine’s Day At Cardiovascular Rehab

Casualties of a brush with death cling to life, eager to

prolong their days, shuffling in with the rising sun

on a Nordic Track Trainer or coaxing reluctant legs

to mount an airdyne bike, pedaling away as if they’re

coming around the bend at the Grand Prix.

Nurses monitor EKG and blood pressure, huge TV screens

are everywhere blasting Oprahs’s blather, politics and suicide

bombers on CNN, money moving up, down and sideways,

and Regis Philbin, a veteran of by-pass surgery who looks

embalmed, prattling on and on with his current bimbo.

Health commandments are on the wall: “Have you walked

10,000 steps today? Siente dolor? Are you in pain?

Beat the bugs, Wash your hands with Purell Sanitizer!

Pazzo for pizza, Go nuts, Feel your oats and Beans, beans,

they’re good for your heart.”

One blonde lady is eighty-two with eyes of blue and a figure half

her age. “Must have been a knock-out,” one man mumbles

cranking out minutes on the upper body ergometer.

A tall guy with a towel around his neck nods his head,

exclaiming “hubba-hubba, what a dish,” huffing and puffing,

sweating profusely, he plods along on an elliptical cross-trainer.

He runs on a treadmill alongside the blonde, discovering her

former husband worked in construction with his cousin Vinny,

their lives intertwined from day one. Cupid pierces their worn

out hearts. They walk out arm in arm, harmonizing

“Heart of my heart,” serendipitous soul-mates.

The facility is filled with survivors of angina, arrhythmia,

myocardial infarcts and a variety of strokes.

Pacemakers tick, defibrillators at the ready, rehabilitated folks

with healthy hearts are like a fleet of fifty-year old Cuban cars

rebuilt with scavenged parts.

Milton P. Ehrlich