Fay Loomis


The hardest thing I have ever done is stand on one leg. I do "one-leggers," alternating between the weak and strong leg, as part of my post-stroke exercise program.

A year ago, I suffered a stroke. Deep in my marrow, I know why the words "suffer" and "stroke" are linked. In addition to obvious physical suffering, emotional, mental, and spiritual suffering are companions of apoplexy.

We owe the Greeks the words "apoplexy" and "stroke." They believed that when one suffered stroke symptoms, the Gods had struck that person. That's where the spiritual angst enters my psyche. Why do the gods thwack you? I have yet to find an answer.

My Dad liked to hit us kids upside the head with the same sudden unpredictability. Maybe, if he were alive, he could help me find answers. As one who also suffered a stroke, he could share how he walked the labyrinthine path through the stroke maze. I could also thank him for the inherited tendency toward vascular disease.

The Hindus believe in the concept of Lila, which suggests that all outcomes are birthed through the winding path of divine play. Being a plaything of the gods is as unappealing as being struck by them.

One of the requirements for acceptance into Acute Rehab was a willingness to work on recovery, no playing around. My first day, I pushed a walker down a seemingly endless corridor to the physical therapy room. My left foot dragged along the floor, so I was fitted with a brace to help lift my leg and the dangling foot attached to it. I have come a long way, walking without any devices at home, albeit my gait is clunky.

I know my ticket to recovery is rigorous exercise. From one repetition of a few seconds, I am now up to 30-second-one-leggers. My repetitions for all weekly exercises has reached more than 9,000.

Tree Pose, which is similar to "one-leggers," always challenged me in yoga class. The yogini stands on one leg and rests the opposite foot against her inner thigh. A part of me resonates with the existential absurdity that I might shoot for mastery of this standing pose in my 81st year.


Fay L. Loomis had a stroke in December of 2017 and is making her way back to recovery and writing. She lives in the woods in upstate New York. An active member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers, Loomis' poems and prose have appeared in print and online publications, including A Quiet Courage, Peacock Journal, Postcard Poems and Prose, Watershed Review, River Poets Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, and Celestial Musings: Poems Inspired by the Night Sky.