21 January 2010 | Vol. 9, No. 4

The Race

You're a trigger finger dug into the starting gun,

the smack as it fires, the tense stroke of hooves

pressing into a fresh track. You're the curiosity

of a flashbulb nibbling air, tricky camera lens

grabbing a mane as it quivers back. I'm a rising

overture of thighs. I'm dirt exploding midair

—sand fireworks. I'm the impulse to grab hold:

the jockey's knees clenching as he rocks above

the heaving saddle. You're the bit I can't keep

from tasting, and I, the clench of jaws, willing

to split in two for the shiver of collision, tooth

on tooth. Darling, you're a wager: the whole wad

riding on one last leap, but then you're abrupt:

an ankle's vomity pop. And I'm the entire crowd

grunting to its feet. You're one blossoming

moment of unstoppable collapse: the bracing

limbs, the beveling slide, the shriek of submission

to gravity, a hard landing. From the stands, I'm

a hush: hand to mouth. I'm needles of heat, a gut

sinking over a lost life savings. You're someone

else's carnation wreath, red as a bitemark necklace.

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About the author:

Saara Myrene Raappana has new poems forthcoming in Isotope, Spoon River Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, and the Cincinnati Review, among others. She holds an MFA from the University of Florida and currently lives in Gainesville, Fla. with her husband. She's an editor for cellpoems.org, a poetry journal distributed via text message.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Saara Myrene Raappana at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 9, No. 4, where "The Race" ran on January 21, 2010. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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