I watched forty girls do it and then
I did it
I swam the one hundred meters
Then I watched another eight girls
swim the hundred meters
only two of them
to beat me so I was
in the hundred meters
a fact that is of the utmost importance
on this particular day. That I do know.
Called to the awards table
to pick up the bronze medal
and already beginning to darken
because time passes even more quickly
on dry land than in the water
I accept it
the medal laid on a blue foam cushion
in a thin plastic box
the clear lid pressing it flat.
I do not even take it out of the box
until decades later
just before I am discarding it and
the indentation in the crumbling cushion
is as real as the medal itself
won for a race
so long ago
that I don’t remember.
There were so many.
I do know.
2 thoughts on “Third Place”
How funny that this poem so neatly relates to the conversation we were just having on another blog post.
Yes. This poem is the other side of 4th place – this time not getting it, but doing better, and yet…even that accomplishment fades. I wond many many awards during my swimming career, thousands, even though that sounds crazy, but it’s true, over all those years, and now, I think, I have kept about 25-30 ribbons, medals and trophies that meant something to me, the rest – given away (Special Olympics used to recycle old medals) or thrown out…
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