water rising out of water

5something a.m.
mica and i turn our backs to the floodlights
while we register her and her bike
i grab pins for her jersey number (25)
and ask the volunteer who writes the number
on mica’s arms, thighs, calves
if i may borrow the sharpie
(with which i apply the temporary knuckle tattoos:
kick ass!)
freezing in the dark-turning-light
(supposed to get down to 49 degrees mica said
the night before)
shivering visible i
toss on mica’s free jersey
(over sweater and thermal)
from the free mini backpack
with the triathalon’s name on it
while someone with a megaphone announces
the temperature of the water (74 degrees)
and declares it a wetsuit-able race
the way the word non-participant
is more of a slap than the word spectator


participants only in the bike corral
i sit on the fence
and hold my arm in
(you put your left arm in
you take your left arm out)
and joke about my arm being in the corral
it’s water rising out of water
i explain
to emory in the backseat
about the fog
lifting off forest lake
to our left
as the morning sun hits its surface

emory picks out a gold bag of
honey mustard pretzels
and we split the granola bar in the car
the texture of pavement
coming up through our poster paper
as we draw hearts
and mica’s name
and number
and a matricket (mouse, chicken and cricket [the dog])


shadowing is what the man at the aid station calls it
(my running alongside mica for the first mile
where she gives me the updates and then
we fall into a quiet side-by-side pace)


can i i ask
cup of water in my hand
receiving permission to toss it
on mica’s skin


feasting in the marina parking lot
we all agree
that the next-day pizza
tastes better than last night’s

tyler kicking back on
red-pink couch
spoon placed on upside down pint lid placed on
small coffee table
while the ice cream softens

it’s not just a body thing,
i could do the .75 swim, the 18 mile ride and the 5 mile run,
it’s a mental/mind thing too
that’s the part i can’t handle
i try to explain from the back seat
(imagining the battle
in those initial moments
of the skin-shock cold of lake water
to get into my rhythm/pace
regardless of where the other athletes
around me are)
while we head west


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