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The Swim Meet

Crack of the gun, they’re off!

Left, right, left… 

Waves of swimmers 

Slicing through crystal waters.

To cacophonous applause tossed like 

crazy laps beyond them, bouncing off walls—

drowning the void between air and space,

pledging deafening sorority that promises 

to go on forever past the finish line.

I breath in drunk wafts of energy.

Dripping humid air hangs on my skin like a pause.

A mother screams out to redirect her son: 

arms waving, misconnecting, mishearing 

he plods on wrong strokes, this way and that 

for the home team.

A perfect little girl climbs out, bunched over 

with cramp, is tenderly wrapped in a towel

and spirited away by her mother.

Another girl breaks a record in the breaststroke

to wild excitement—not on our team.

More wild pandemonium in a freestyle relay,

tsunami waves for another record—again, not our team.

A boy dives in undaunted, last in the event, pouring 

heart and soul in an effort to catch-up, already lost.

Amidst it all a girl pulls soggy self out of the water.

A gorgeous intaglio trying not to be noticed; you can see 

she is tired, reticent of her achievement—a quiet victory,

barely pulling a first against older larger opponents.

While this man’s eyes swim with joyous tears 

for his adored daughter:

Diving in, ecstatic, gasping,


dripping in his feet.

Stephen Cipot