Cross Country Child

Hot, sticky tar, harsh sun blooming gold

and slicking out sweat from me. My breath

gusts in and out, my face is bright, a red

exclamation point over red uniform,

legs long, burning rubber snaps

with leaded feet attached on thin, wobble string knees.

Hair swings, stirring sluggish heat as feet

pound in tandem with my heart, breath in, out,

and ahead pounds another pair of feet, another

set of lungs, and though we run, long-legged,

sweat-glistening golden girls, I breathe in,

we breathe out, steps slow but sure

for hearts, for feet and shaky coltish legs

and shuddering chests, the red tape

to mark another end to the long, long race.

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