I remember the sun kissing our
neon zinc-ed faces, heating tiny cubes
of red track until the rubber,
warm to the touch, clung to resting
palms and thighs.
I remember the smell of watermelon,
hot dogs and gatorade mingling with
the acrid smoke of the starter’s pistol
and the feral horde of butterflies
fighting in my stomach each time
the gun would blast.
I remember ghosts of friends from
back then sharing laughs as
we warmed up, muscles strong,
nerves tight, bravado bared to all.
I remember his folding chair,
right there at the end of every race,
rain or shine, he showed up, coaxing
tired bones out of his favourite
recliner and into his giant, blue
oldsmobile, the interior littered
with cigarette holes and
werthers candies; he showed up
with pride, without fail.
I remember overhearing the boys
talk about the old man smoking
by the finish line, how gross it was
and why was he even there anyway,
and I remember shame taking root
and spreading: I knew the old man
was there for me.
I remember the day I stopped running
through the ribbon, straight to that
striped chair, to that time bowed man,
with his precisely combed white hair,
wearing ironed jeans, wrinkles
and a smile that could charm anyone.
I remember his funeral, not long after,
sitting in a room stained with
dust, tears and time arrested;
shame and sadness lodged heavy in
my throat as I wished for just one
more chance to say I love you.
I went to my first poetry workshop today. This came out of nowhere; I didn't even realize the baggage I've been hauling around for years.