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Kerry Folan

Racing, Part I

Racing, Part I

I dive, and the world is silent for a breath.
Ahead a square tiled black, below a line,
the only certain shapes amid the fran-
tic churning of arms and legs and water.
I breathe and the world on land flicks alive again.
All summer I’ve practiced this race repeating the mo-
tions over until my stroke is smooth as silk,
until a tanlined “X”  glows white on my back.
I still my head and scan for fragments, a dis-
embodied hand, a flutter of feet nearby,
I’ve caught her now; I can see her clumsy knees.

She flips first, a slow and awkward somer-
sault. I swivel and twist in a fluid flipturn,
pushing off the wall in a pretty streamline.
Air. I glimpse my coach aloft, a fist raised.
She can’t catch up now, and everybody
knows it, screaming an even roar, the crowd a
solid cheering wall at pool’s edge. Losing
ground, she slips from my shoulder, to my waist, out of
view. It’s then I begin to feel regret, not for my
win, exactly, but for its cost to this girl, whose name I
won’t recall years later when I try to tell.

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Kerry Folan’s work has appeared in River Teeth, Hippocampus, Literary Hub, Southeast Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, among others. She teaches at George Mason University and lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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