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From issue 43, The Games People Play
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.