Swim Meet

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Oh say can you see
Her quivering voice echoes in the vaulted space
Faltering on the ethereal notes of chlorine
Permeating quivering air
The national anthem struggles to slice its way
Through bitter currents of tension
Shuffling sweaty feet
Nervous whispers and last-minute adjustments
To leaking goggles and straps of too-tight suits
That leave blistering cruel marks on muscled backs
O'er the ramparts quick glances
Summing up the competition with right hands over pounding hearts
Shifty eyes and slouching hips still dripping
Breathing hard under the star-spangled banner
As the last piercing note is held with faltering vibrato
A pause a cacophony of silence
Then a smattering of applause in the home of the brave
As the swimmers explode and radiate in swarms of emotion
The anthem sung so hesitantly remains in their plastic ears
Reminding them
You are racing for America
But more importantly they wonder
Who will win?





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