The starter has them on the line.
The gun glints in the bright sunlight.
A breeze ruffles the water into little ripples
that lap against the sides of
eight long, white, glistening boats.
Sixty-four tanned women crouch forward,
fingers curled ’round oars,
coiled like springs.
Eight small girls face them
white hands on white string
breathing into black mics
faces hidden by caps and sunglasses
waiting for the signal.
The athletes erupt
into a furious frenzy
of short, sharp strokes,
water spraying into rainbows around them, unnoticed
amidst the calls of the coxswains,
oars slicing powerfully through the deep blue,
legs pushing strongly against pinned feet
heads filled with coaches’ voices, coxswain’s voices, inner voices
and lungs burning within.
The starter grunts and pulls the next round of caps from his pocket.
The swirl of emotion and motion that surrounds the beginning of a race at a rowing regatta.
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