Breathing Lessons

February 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

When you’re young,
and I mean two seconds old,
no one tells you what to do.
Your gut feel is golden
and your little lungs expand
like cherub’s wings taking flight
against the gustlessness
of city streets,
against the frugality of love,
your shrill yell, your fighting limbs
complex infant machinery
wrapped in the fragility
of a snowflake.

But give or take a few years
and life will beat you
into submission.
Your prayers, your schooling,
your first real heartbreak,
such pretty little frightened things.

You will learn to live
with the stuffiness of the air,
a tightness in your chest,
a hold on your tongue.

“There,” they will say,
“is a good girl. There is a girl
adapted to the world
outside the womb.”

Once you were wild
and intuitive
and covered in blood
but now you know too well
the staleness of the world
and so you hold your storm
inside of you, like rations in a war,
too clever to squander
the endangered
in a laugh.

But somewhere there are still wings,
and flecks of lightest gold,
and you know
you’ll never learn how to breathe
until you fall in love with the drown.


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