Erin Merke

The Race by Academy Monthly

The cheers sent me into a joyous swoon.

I caught my breath and glanced from side to side, 

but their names I did not know. 


I was told it was me against the world,

that everything in my life has led to this moment:  

if I’m not first, I’m last, 

if I’d believe, I’d succeed and

failure, that would never be an option;

and something that also sounded a bit like

that saying, “practice makes perfect”. 


The finish line called out, 

and I answered back. I guess 

chlorine is the breakfast of champions, 

and I swallowed that toxic spoonful.