How terrifying it must be
to have your athletic life
decided in thirty seconds,
(or fewer, if you fall).
How many hours in the gym.
How many hours on practice runs.
How many injuries over four years.
It does not deter the Olympian,
who will risk all on one flip of the coin.
How similar are we non-athletic mortals,
where our whole lives may turn on shorter notice –
a flash fire, a mistake crossing the street,
an impulsive decision, a brilliant idea.
Life turns, not on a dime,
but on the smaller currency of time.
Glory or ignominy for the athlete,
decided in thirty seconds, perhaps,
with the difference between winning and losing
measured, often, in fractions thereof.
For the rest of us, too, our lives will be judged
not in decades, but by short, vivid, crystalline moments.