Breathing

2020.  The year of Covid19 and Black Lives Matter.  This has been published in Viral Verses – a collection of wonderfully illustrated poems written by some well known and some not so well known poets, focusing on the impact of the pandemic.   See the following link:

https://www.viral-verses.com

 

Breathing

Explain to me, please, why we’re laying the wreaths
For the people who left us, unable to breathe
Wreaths lie by buildings – wreaths lean on walls
In front of the crowds, in front of us all.

Explain to me why we are losing our breath
As we fall to one knee, as we witness more death
As the innocent die and the sickness spreads fast
As the effigies fall and we gasp at our past.

There’s a gasp of the fight and a sigh in our flight
And a sharp grasp at air to scream out in the night
For a light, for a nurse, for some kindness, some good
To unravel the things we thought we understood

We are wrong, we are right, we are living in death
We are good, we are bad, we are gasping for breath
In a moment in time when so much time is spare
Altogether alone. We are going nowhere

Breathe in and breathe out, deeply, through the nose
This cycle of motion and then of repose
Use the diaphragm, don’t use the chest, so they say
But we’re choked by our tears so can’t breathe anyway

The rhythm is broken. Each breath runs into the next
Breath, as we learn the pain of no breath,
And we watch as he begs for his chance to inhale
And we watch her turned over – her lungs fit to fail.

Universal, this thing. Life in motion as one
All breathe in then breathe out then the break has to come
If it starts it will stop, if it comes it will go
Where there’s bad there is good. That’s all we’ll ever know.

So take in some air, sing a love song for all
A protest with love, take the wreaths from the wall
There’s more than one virus … in each of us death
And the end is always our one final breath.

Jenny Knight
2020

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