What they didn’t tell me–
you have to wear a hospital gown
with wires taped to your chest,
an IV in one arm,
a blood pressure cuff on the other
and that every 3 minutes
they increase the speed and elevation.

So there I am–breathless–
in running shoes and pink hospital gown
tied with a loose string
gaping open in the back
while I trudge steadily uphill.

On the wall before me
as I climb that imaginary hill,
a poster of Positano,
the glamour of the Italian Riviera
just beyond reach.

I continue this Sisyphus ascent
watching red numbers on the screen
increase to 134 when the attending male nurse
whisks me off the treadmill
and onto a table where he has 30 seconds
to measure my vitals under stress.

In case you’re interested, I passed
despite my advanced age.  No one requested
my review of the experience so instead,
just for you,
I wrote this poem.