la vuelta '22: the final week in poems

Stage 16: Sanlúcar de Barrameda to Tomares They call the sun-browned stage pancake flat. A few bumps. The finale, a launchpad for rocket-booster legs. The heart is always jammed in the throat during such things. We’ve seen failure before. The rockets cease their climb, crash back to earth, fins askew. It’s always shocking. Always breaks us. Small pancakes of blood pool on the dark tarmac beneath the defending champion heaving great gasps of pain & blinking away sweat. The sport sometimes demands too much.

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