Bonus Cut Poetry: A Poem By Abby Conklin


This is the fifth installment of Bonus Cut Poetry, a new series that features original poems by Bonus Cut staff, artists and YOU! In this series, our mission is to bring people together in poetry, share stories and display wonderful artistic pieces. If you would like to have your poems in the next Bonus Cut Poetry installment, just email us at

Our fifth installment features guest writer Abby Conklin.

About How You used to Be an Athlete 
By: Abby Conklin 

Getting back in the pool feels
like everything you’ve done
right: water slipping
Cradling you close.

You’re conscious
of your body, fighting
its polyester confines.
You’ve forgotten how it slices
against your groin, draws skin
crosswise.  Your shoulders’
breadth is an instant-access
card.  You’ve been
here before, your black gloats.
The mechanisms of your
body, easy slides between
bone, gristle, muscle-
they claim your right
to be here.

Today, there are no watches
couching above where feet
hit.  No whistle at the flags,
no number placards.  No shout
each time your ears pop
above surface.  There is only
the old pulse, as a neighbor tries
to pass you, and you still
race; your body doesn’t know better.
The mind creates a crowd,
coaches, a raging red time
board. Go you hear, as you slice
away.  Go.

You feel your well-oiled
machine rise, like it had never
been shut down.  It’s the water,
except more, when you get right
down to it.
the lines of tiles below
are the skeletons in your closet.
The smell of your skin
afterwards, your blanket after dark.
Go, you think,
legs pushing, arms reaching.

And lo.  You are
safe.  You are

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