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The Weigh-In

From issue 43, The Games People Play


The Weigh-In

In retrospect my legs were long,
two strong cylinders that pushed me 

up the stadium steps, my body bound 
with plastic wrap, the time running down.  

I liked to be under direction and duress, 
the stress of the short tick of the clock,

the predawn speed sessions 
and my name in the megaphone

as my coach watched me master the fast stroke.  
Nope, he said. Nope. In Augusta, Georgia 

I was twenty-two, nude on the weigh-in scale, 
drunk with dehydration. We used spit cups 

and suppositories, compared finish times 
and muscle size, trained inside the humid tongue 

of the South. My stomach was as flat 
as the oar, resting on the water after winning 

the race. I have a different body now.
I’m still desperate and public. I move at a fast pace.


Kirsten Andersen’s poems have appeared in Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, Court Green, and elsewhere. A recent finalist for the National Poetry Series, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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