Posts Tagged ‘breathing’

In this deep sea of grief,
it is hard to trust
my own buoyancy—
great waves break on me,
take my breath away,
I’m submerged by loss,
yet with so little effort
I rise. Just by being alive,
I rise. So I splutter.
So I’m graceless.
So I cannot see the shore.
But my friend reminds me,
there’s no way
that I can do this wrong.
So I let myself be carried
by currents unknown,
and each time I breathe—
I feel myself rise.
With so little effort,
I rise.

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Tucked in my mind’s back pocket
is that evening when I ran full speed
off the end of the pier

and leapt fully dressed into the water.
The air in my clothes buoyed me for a moment
before swirling around me like a purple bloom—

and the heavy sun was orange and low,
and the water held me, refreshed me,
stole my breath for a moment,

then gave me back the gift of my breath,
only deeper, fuller, a bloom in my body.
Oh the freedom—how easy it felt to be alive,

to be afloat, to be enwombed by the world.
Everything felt right. Everything felt yes.
Sometimes, like now, when worry polishes my thoughts,

I dip a toe into that pocket and feel the splash on my skin,
hear the water lapping against the buoys, the pier.
Sometimes, like now, I jump in and swim there

long enough that when I return to this chair, this room,
I find the faint lake scent lingering in my hair,
my face still wet.

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            —for A



And if I could, I would breathe for you.

I would inhale and exhale and hold

your breath for you. For you I would

sigh and rant, I would hack and pant,

I would be your lungs if I could. I would

ease this ache, I would carry this pain,

I would take away fear, I would be

the wind, the wild mesa wind,

the late April wind that blows change

into all we thought we knew

and rearranges the meaning of here.

No one could ever speak for you.

But I would breathe for you, friend.

Please, breathe, please keep breathing.

I need you to breathe for you, breathe

for me, please, friend. I wish I could

breathe for you, breathe for you.

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Longing to Help



The world enters

us as breath. We

return to it itself

as breath.

            —Joseph Hutchison, “Comfort Food: Breath”



And so today, on a day

when I feel quite sure

I can’t give you anything,

not anything that really matters,

I give you my breath.

It’s more conceptual

than actual, perhaps,

though scientists say

that the molecules we breathe

have been redistributed

in our atmosphere

for a century or two.

I decide to breathe as if.

As if with each breath,

I connect to you. As if

with each breath, we

become just a little

more each other

one molecule at a time.


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Is not like midnight in Colorado.

It’s dark, of course, same stars.

But the air here has a weight

that holds me—as if it’s been having

a long conversation with me

since before I arrived, as if it knows me.

I have come with my arms too full.

The night asks me to set down

whatever I have brought,

to hold it the way it holds me.

I breathe into the night

only to find it is breathing me.

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“Focus on your breathing,” Susie says.

“Imagine this next breath is your first.”

And for a while, it works. I feel the inhale move

from nose to throat to lungs, feel the new air travel

through my legs and arms. Then breathe it out.

I’m curious. I follow as the breath becomes my

daughter, and I wonder how her first day

of climbing went yesterday. And that was so weird

how she was in my dream last night when

I swallowed a spider. Oh yeah. Exhale. Inhale.

The breath. My chest is rising, my hands are still,

and wouldn’t it be nice to go walk in the redwoods?

How long has it been since we were there? ’97?

’98? And inhale. There it is again, the invitation

to take the first breath, and wow, feel all that air

as it rushes in and fills the body like

the balloons at Finn’s birthday party last weekend.

That was so fun, the boys in the waning sun

playing out on the lawn. I can’t believe how sweet

they were to each other and breathe. Right. Here.

Paying attention to the places where my body

meets the ground. Butt. Knees. Shins. And isn’t

it wild how the hum of the cars on the highway outside

at first sound just like a gong. Wrong. Wrong. Think breath.

Or not wrong. Just an other invitation to embrace the process,

each thought like wind, and I, I’m rowing a small canoe.

Is silence always this loud? Someone across the circle

is snoring, and from the kitchen it smells like, mmm,

Thai curry. And Susie says, “Return to the breath,”

and for another moment, I breathe in, breathe out.

And I thank you, mind, for all this practice. You’re

so good at what you do. It matters, this dance,

this chance to be present, to show up and meet

the all that is. I so want to know what is true.

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how to erode

this growing wall of anger—

one breath at a time

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Susie suggests to improve

my stress, I “put space between

the stimulus and my response.”

Breathing will help, she says,

and so tonight, never mind

what the stimulus was,

I imagined taking in a breath

the size of North America,

let the whole topography

unfurl in me, and when

I still felt the urge to fight,

I upgraded the next breath

to a space more the size

of the milky way and while

I was out there, on impulse, I put

that little almond-shaped amygdala

of mine on a passing comet

and watched it fly away,

its fists still up in the air

swinging at nothing.

I don’t know how it made it

all the way back to Placerville

so fast, but it was there in time

to hear my lips say what Susie

told me to say, Let’s start over.

And damned if it didn’t just put on

its fussiest pucker face, but

instead of mocking me,

it got all starry eyed, as if it were

thinking about how nice

it had been on that comet ride,

tiny lanterns of stars all around.





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In the other room I hear
my father snoring
and imagine how
he’s stood before
outside my door
and listened
to my tides of sleep
with, could it be,
as much love for me
as I have now for him—
his shore is my shore,
our heart sails

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Oh Rumi, already
I have forgotten

your words from
this morning, I heard

them as though through
a hundred white veils.

It was something
about sweetness

and scattering, and
it feels like a loss

to not remember
exactly what was said.

Your words
were like, I don’t know,

a breeze moving over
my body, rearranging me

as if I were sand so
that what remains is

more art of the beloved and
something less of me.

Perhaps this is part
of the emptying—

letting go of words,
even lovely ones,

as the body releases
a breath. The lungs

do not lament the air
that so marvelously

filled them up.
How difficult I make it

sometimes. Like today,
for nearly an hour

I plum forgot to smile.
By grace I remembered

to soften the face
and let myself be smiled.

How wonderful it’s been
since then, the veils

rippling around me,
openings appearing

in the current of folds.

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