Monday, March 25, 2013

The Track Team, by Carol Kearns

In class a few weeks ago I asked the class to do a ten-minute writing on something they had noticed that day. Carol continued to notice things around her. Later that day she observed the Downey High School track team running through our community and she paid attention to their workout. This is the perceptive result of her observations.

School is out
But the jagged line of students pushes onward
Down the boulevard
Ignoring the exhaust
They know the route and have the desire

The track team is large
Democratic, self-selected, with no tryouts
You don’t have to be fast, just willing to train

A mile from school
There is little energy for laughter and chatter
Some advance solo
Syncing their pace to music on an iPod

Experienced runners pump their arms
In smooth coordination with their legs
Not too hard
Just enough to be efficient
Gracefully they advance up the line

Novice runners haven’t learned yet
What is required for success on the track
Rigidly held hands conflict with
The motion of their legs

Bouncing ponytails betray
The side-to-side swing of shoulders and elbows
By girls wondering             is track compatible with femininity

But two miles is still two miles
And from daily effort
The novice runners will find their stride

At last the line turns left on to a tree-lined street
Confident boys shed tee shirts
Even the shade is not cool enough

Brave girls strip down to sports bras
And enjoy the breeze
On their glistening midrifts

Two more blocks and the line turns left again
Just in time for the grammar school dismissal
Less fit runners welcome the order by a crossing guard
To jog in place at an intersection

Small children escorted by parents look in awe
At these fleet creatures
Do you know my brother
A little one asks a shaggy-haired Adonis
His only answer is a smile
From an adolescent breathing deeply

The whistle sounds
And the sweaty herd surges onward
More stretched out than ever at this half-way point
Saturday will be their first meet of the season



  1. Wow, what a detailed, articulate observation. I could "see" the intense energy as I read this. I feel the need to go rest now!

  2. And you said you were not a poet...Oh yes you are. This is so descriptive that I feel the sweat beading on my forehead.! Well done!!!