In One Breath…

Photo by Skitterphoto on

I wrote this poem for a friend after my friend lost her mom. She was in a deep state of grief. One of the elements of our friendship has always been our ability to dance. Even at this great time of loss in her life, I remember hanging out and we danced. It was almost reflexive that this is what we should do at such a sad time. I knew there was going to be years of healing, but I also saw, as I watched her dance, that even when the biggest events happen to us, and we’re totally lost, solace is often found in the simplest places: the dance, the poem, the beauty of a flower found..


I found the strangest yellow flower, it seemed

To be bleeding orange in places. I put it

On the bookshelf next to all my poetry books,

A final formality between two beautiful things in my life.

I turned on some of the old music I liked. I’ve liked

That music ever since I loved the hopeless people I loved.

Somehow that music soaked into my heart,

Staining it, as I grew, into a sadness I have to wring out,

So I can write about the blue beautiful earth, about afternoons,

And what trees bring to them, about private ceremonies

That constitute the privilege of being alive. Like hunger,

You feed me and I’m starving. I eat

And you love and pray. You make the tea

I can never perfect, everything

But the sugar, I ask for. We play

Records too, but we dance barefoot. Our  young feet

Scuffling the old wood floors or your apartment, where

Nobody sees how much I adore you. How much

I adore the private epiphanies I have when I’m in your presence.

Sometimes we move with the quickness of hummingbirds.

Others with the grace of herons. Our feet chatting, chatting.

In hindsight, I see the absence of us. I like to listen to books,

Write poetry about the seasons of the mind, try to uncover

Or know what made this life that gave us feet to dance.

Right now, I don’t know if you believe in a creator. If so,

You are rightfully angry at ‘It,’ for who else do you blame

When your mom is taken away abruptly from 

A world she loved so much and taught you too dance in.

I think about your mom and see all her beauty in you.

I yearn for the delight of play she has instilled in you.

The yearning heart is a playful kitten, it will

Bat at anything lured in front of it. I think of us

As tiny crumbs on the lips of matter sometimes.

In your time, your space, you will re-learn things

Butterflies never learn like the need to dart away

From something that finds you beautiful and just wants to hold you.

I lose sense of common truths too,

In the crowded elevator of my mind. I don’t know,

There could come a day when ruin will take full measure.

We know death is going to find us, stand between us,

And everything we know and love. It’s hard to imagine,

A dead womb, a still heart, taking away

What being with you births inside of me. This strange balance

Of being ignorant and brilliant, old and young,

Rattlesnake and ant, everything and nothing

All in one breath.

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