Lake of Sweat


My boat was small in the lake.
The other side covered by fog,
I rowed on, not feeling my fingers holding the paddle.
Water splashed all over my clothes,
Chilling me down and despairing me,
As if over a burning fire.
Each stroke was sapping a huge amount of my strength.
The bank of the lake was approaching;
I used my paddle to turn,
But I didn’t get it right, my boat was about to hit the land.

Every day I practiced and practiced,
Every day tons of sweat dripped from my face.
Every day my hands were red from gripping the paddle.
Once in a while, the coach let us splash in the water,
Cooling us down from the blazing sun.

All this work was to lead up to the big race,
On the last day of camp to prove our strength and worth.
I ran and ran, the ground skipping beneath me.
I started to get left behind.
My hope dimmed; I was one of the last
To get to our kayaks.
But I was not giving up, not yet.
I hopped into my kayak in the blink of an eye.
I paddled furiously to get a lead.
My spirits lifted, I was gaining on the others.
I paddled more viciously, more water gushing into my boat.
I made a 180-degree turn and raced back.
I hopped out of my kayak,
Tears and sweat crossing the finish line.

Dylan Zhang is an 11-year-old boy born in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Now he is a sixth grader at Hong Kong International School. He plays violin and likes to play Ping Pong and badminton.