Monday, October 31, 2016


"Instruments for the recovery of the apparently dead,"
Charles Kite, 1788, Wellcome Library, London

Pressed between low clouds and a slough, I push then
pull the air in, wheezing, my lungs a squeezebox with
a leaky bellows. A woman in dreads and a patchwork
skirt of a thousand pockets bounces a damp child on
her hip, smiling indistinctly, her breathing as effortless
as mine isn’t. I still can’t breathe. I’ve left the dank Hall
of Mushrooms, I’ve stood in the rain, and all I want is
to run and run until I’m breathless—not to lean over
this soft mud, hands on knees in the sudden vacuum.
A pot-metal garrote, the pulsed constriction of a boa—
just a baby, really, this tightening—closing me down to
a whisper, even as the boggy wetland sighs and blows
bubbles at my feet. O, airway, hours from now, when
we’ve calmed each other, I’ll sing a song for you, with
you, as loud as I can, all unbeautiful but so full of joy.