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In Defense Of

In Defense of “Sweat”
after Hanif Abdurraqib

Peeling off my wrist tape
A slimey touch 
I am trying to pull my socks off
After coach screamed at me 
For not meeting her expectations.
“A real athlete doesn’t take breaks!”
Still, I will try tomorrow

Right now I am thinking about how I dread
Leaving my home
Sweat is what calmed me 
On the drive to the house where I must sleep
I am closing my eyes
As the strangers in the front seat declare their hate for one another. 

The night mom’s stare went cold
Was the night dad drank himself to oblivion
‘Til he showed no remorse for striking another being

I say sweat 
And first, think of fear
The smell of whiskey seeping from his pores
The first and only sign of the day we needed to mind our own.
Each one just another vicious cycle. 
I see sweat
And wonder what anxiety
someone is feeling
I say sweat and it hides the pain
Underneath all of my hard work.

To sweat means to escape 
If only for a few hours.

By Latisha Demarais

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