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Simone – one who hears; one who listens.
Somewhere between the vault where she had kept
a darkness locked up for years of her short life along
with her gleaming medals (a tarnish she refused to
dull the precious mettle of self), and a moment we
all saw as grace in sparkling eye shadow and gleaming
smile, her inner gyroscope teetered, even as she kept
her balance, beaming to the world her light brighter
than the sultry demons of fame, competition, wealth,
and expectation. Something in the calcium and cartilage
of her two dozen years began to ache and fray as she hurled
herself, meteoric, upside-down above earth, her celestial body
tumbling out of a history of performance and measurement,
scores and calorie counts, podiums and violations—a regimen
old as Eve’s footprints—so she ended the routine, stepped
away to even her bars, align her spirit, wake from the dreams
of millions that became for her a recurring nightmare, and, in
her spinning, twisting, weightless state, located a distant point
to stick her final landing in a spotlight of her making, grounded
at last, arms raised victorious in a place uncrowded with spectators,
listening not to the roar of an adoring nation, but to the singing
of one voice deep within, perfect in her own judgment.
Copyright 2021 Matt Hohner
Ed. note: Simone Arianne Biles is an American artistic gymnast. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is tied with Larisa Latynina as the most decorated gymnast of all time.