Past the Finish Line
for Torrin Laurice Lawrence
by Torrin A. Greathouse

I stare at car crash photos and remember the impact.
Remember how the glass split
starting lines into my skin,
imagine how it split wedges in the Leadwood of yours.
How blood poured down our faces like cracks
blooming across breaking glass,
the silent escape of the runaways in our veins.

One day, I will let that blood flow away,
as I tattoo the words
born to run on the inside of my foot,
think of how you tattooed that word onto every track,
every cracked road you filled with thunder,
stamped those three words into the dirt
so that they would never forget you.

I wonder,
for all these years, what were you running from?
People don’t move like that
unless something is chasing them.
What memories tore flesh, unseen from your heels?
What pursued you out in the dark?
I remember how every streetlight was a finish line—until it wasn’t.

I am still running.
Tell me, did you know it was the end
of your race when you saw the semi coming?

Our coaches taught us,
to avoid injury, keep running
after the finish line.
Let your body slow when it chooses.

I stare at car crash photos
and think of how your blood kept running,
even after it left your body.

PHOTO: Sprinter Torrin Laurice Lawrence (1989-2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first saw the prompt, I was immediately intrigued, but thought it was unlikely I would find a famous Torrin. When I began to research, however, I struck gold. I found a figure with experiences similar to my own, a similar drive, and who died in a car crash the way I almost did. In a way, the primary separation between us is the air in my lungs.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Torrin A. Greathouse is a Literary Journalism student and governing member of the Uncultivated Rabbits spoken word collective at UC Irvine. They were the 2015 winner of the Orange County Poetry Slam. Torrin’s work has been published in several magazines including Rust + Moth, Chiron Review, Crack the Spine, and one chapbook Cosmic Taxi Driver Blues. They are currently employed as the executive assistant of a sustainable lighting firm. Their previous jobs include security guard, farm hand, antique store clerk, and tattoo artist.

PHOTO: The author eating lunch, January 8th