Douglas Jette

The Wrestler

The crowd roars as the two wrestlers writhe and twist in opposition, neither yet having an advantage over the other.  Silently, another wrestler observes the match from a distance while warming up and stretching out, his energy focused inward as he prepares for the competition to come.  He bobs up and down softly as if on gentle springs. As his arms wave like branches in a gentle spring breeze he moves more quickly to keep muscles warm against the frigid air of the gym.  Tension rises, as the unknown opponent looms larger in his mind.  Anticipation builds as the time to engage draws nearer, steadily growing into a nearly unbearable weight.  Sometimes he listens to music; sometimes he watches and cheers the earlier matches.  Stretching is always a good release. His muscles must be ready to relax and then compress again in an instant.  As the match draws closer, he turns away from the noise and activity.  He heads down into the deep, dark abyss of concentration - alone.

The buzzer blares as the other match ends.  There is now one winner, and one loser.  He doesn’t care who won.  His match next, he closes his eyes to gather his thoughts, empty his mind, and relax his muscles.  As he steps into the circle, all he knows and has learned has been pushed down deep, deep into the shadow of his soul.  All that he knows and has learned, now reduced to one idea and one attitude: 6 minutes, 3 periods, 1 winner.

As he gets into his stance, he shows his opponent that he is ready.  He and his opponent face each other, and shake hands, the referee’s whistle at the ready.  Mere seconds are left until the struggle will begin.  The wrestler concentrates on the other’s eyes and waits for the referee’s whistle.  Suddenly, the signal is shrill and the action is instant.  He circles his opponent in one long moment as the room spins behind them like the view from a carousel.  Quick as lightning, in one fluid motion, he drops to one knee and grabs his opponent’s leg behind the knee with an iron grip.  The single motion continues upward as he lifts the opponent off the floor and throws him downward onto the mat.  The resistance is fierce as his opponent struggles to respond.  Now it is a struggle to subdue his opponent.  Within seconds, sweat starts to seep from their pores covering them with an oily film that makes the struggle that much more difficult.  The first period is not even over and he is going all out, his muscles bulging, straining against his skin and his singlet.  The battle is a fierce one, but in a miniscule moment, a fleeting instant, the wrestler sees an opportunity for a pin and seizes it.  The opponent is on his back, shoulders pressed into the mat.  Two seconds later, the thundering slap of the referee’s hand and the shrill cry of the whistle signal the end of the match.  In the moment it takes for his victory to sink in, the wrestler breathes a deep sigh of relief.  He has won the meet for his team.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.