Penn Relays

My father is searching his wrist,
patting with fingers that moments before
nervously fiddled the bedsheet’s hem.
Those of us near see in his fidget
a body reading the braille of its dying.
But all my father wants is his wristwatch,
the one with penn relays running
around the face of the clock. It would give him
some comfort to wear, not that he knows
where he is, not that he cares about time,
but he’s never not had it awake, strapped
to his wrist, not since he and his teammates
won what’s engraved on the back:
Half-Mile Relay Championship of America 1937.

Presented by

Michael Collier’s most recent collection is An Individual History (2012). He teaches at the University of Maryland.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.
More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In