By Claire Burianek

Giant warehouse doors, 

sunlight spills through 

heating the floor 

as I struggle to keep up. 

You were omnipresent, 

lying in wait 

as a predator does for prey, 

waiting for the perfect opportunity 

to tell me I was never going to make it. 

That my best would never be enough. 

I would never be strong enough, 

flexible enough, 

talented enough. 

Your all-pervasive stench 

followed you around, 

a stench so bad 

I ground the peels from my oranges 

into my hands 

just to have something nice to smell. 

The orange mixed with the chalk, 

creating a hot sticky mixture 

I could never quite wash off. 

Underneath it all 

was the stench of you. 

It never faded 

until you did.