giro donne 2022 in poetry
Thirst can be hopeful. But it can also be wild.
On the first day, the beach seems so small
from the helicopter shots. Waves out of the blue
Tyrrhenian pulse against the shoreline, signs
of a hot wind buffeting the riders as they dash
alone toward the line with nothing but the tick
of the clock in the pits of their stomachs. Full sun
the next day. Bottles emptied down the neck,
droplets glittering like a cascade of diamonds
before disappearing under the parched wheels
of the peloton. A sprint in such heat is animalistic.
They lunge for the line as if it were prey to be caught.
Then they begin to stalk each other, bolting up hills
and around wide walls of stone, through tunnel
vision, caked in the salt and dust of the long road.
So bewildered by the sun are they that their tires
tangle under the kite. The fox leaps from the pack
once again. The trees’ leafy shadows dance
to the raspy song of drought. Then, a ski-resort
reprieve. Rain polka-dots the riders fresh up
the mountain as they sit panting in the cool air.
They descend and climb, everything before
them either valley or alp. Their eyes are pools
of hunger staring at the wheels sawing the air
in front of their noses. The maglia rosa soars
and lands hard, a teeth-gritted sprint still turns
into the smile of victory. The racers flock
through the fields of Padua, flying finally
toward the finish after carrying on their backs
the sun like a stone. Their bikes as if made of wings.
— for the Giro Donne 2022.
Dane Hamann is a Chicagoland editor and poet. His first book, A Thistle Stuck in the Throat of the Sun (Kelsay Books, 2021), is ostensibly about running. Occasional tweets @donnyhamms.
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