Like horses of a herd,
we move together, feet pounding the dirt
in unison. Sweat
rolling over skin like the tears
of burning muscles. Our eyes captured by the path
ahead, our minds lost within the Dream.
In my dream
I see a winding mountain path:
twenty-six miles of dirt
under beloved tennis shoes. The herd
behind me; sweat
burning my eyes like tears
of victory. We do not stop the tears;
it is a rule of the herd.
The salty bitterness of a broken dream
mixing with sweat
to pour down our faces in a warm path.
We embrace—our disappointment mixing at our feet in a pool of dirt.
Our hands sit firmly on the dirt,
our arms pump up and down, glimmering with sweat.
The pain is not important, we think only of the dream:
of leading the herd,
of leaving behind tears,
of being the first feet to break the path.
My feet race down the path.
Around me runners vie for position, like horses in a herd.
Our legs are streaked with dirt;
spit lathers our cheeks like the tears
of burning lungs. Our minds dream
of the hard-earned solace of drying sweat.
The sweet odor of crystallized, left-over sweat;
the comfort of hugs warmed with tears;
the sticky grit of dirt
flung into hair by shoes tearing up the path;
the willingness to sacrifice everything to the dream—
these are the marks of the herd.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.