A Mindfulness Exercise In Which Nothing Is Accomplished
i'm sipping beer and breathing, I'm pulling
liquid through my teeth
just like my uncle used to, I pick
a breath to grow inside me, it feels
like water, I'm filled
with water and drowning.
but air isn't water and we can't
live without either. so take
one away, we die. take the other away,
we die. both endings to this story
involve a desert without life.
I lean back and feel the sand
that is stubble on
I put my hands on my stomach
to feel my ribs try to escape. my lungs
feel like they'll grow and grow and grow.
we both know they won't. but
maybe they will, maybe
circus colored hot air balloons
are just lungs that
dared to dream. I'm losing it.
of course they aren't. of course lungs aren't
balloons, and of course they can't float above it all
like some regal bird of prey.
of course I tried to turn
a piece of clay into a masterpiece. maybe i'm
clay, maybe these hands are clay,
maybe these lungs are just what happens
to mud after a billion years.
my eyes are open, i don't remember
opening my eyes. and I definitely
don't recall the
room being sideways
sometimes, when my eyes are tight and shut, sometimes I
try and see myself as others see me,
i try to make darkness a mirror.
but i see an old tool box
in a garage i don't know, i see a tattered
flannel shirt that seems a little familiar, I see
the blond girl I sat behind
in sixth grade, (her name was Kacey and she read books about
God with a capital G, and she
knew Jesus, and she prayed before
every meal and kissed all the boys
behind the jungle gym
of used tractor tires) . but she didn't kiss me,
she never kissed me. and I wondered
if it was because I never
found God with a capital G. or maybe
she never saw me just like I still don't
see me. instead
I see an old fishing lure, a half rotted squirrel carcass
with yellow teeth. I see the apple trees
blossoming. I hear my father saying
"you can't close your eyes
when you swing the bat,
you have to look it in."
but i'm not paying attention again,
I lost it, I
didn't look it in. I can feel my heart race
a little, skip a beat to remind
me, "there you go again, you're chasing ghosts." maybe this
is a poem about my fears, maybe this
is all deep water and I
can't see because i won't look down, maybe my heart is racing
because I'm treading water.
maybe I tried to dive. maybe this
is all a shallow water blackout.
maybe this is three days later
and i'm just coming up for air. look,
I don't know how to
free dive, and I never could swim,
and one time I even almost
drowned in a hotel swimming
pool because I thought
I saw a dime on the bottom. even
my dreams have stipulations, even my wild thoughts
are somehow tethered to
the ground. I am not an animal
that flies or swims or dives
or learns from past mistakes.
but i can breathe. I can
count my breaths.
I can walk in the door and tell you that
I'm home, and isn't
this gray sky
some kind of canvas?
I'm still breathing and my body is heavy
I'm still breathing and missing the ones
who always seemed to see me, like
how the French Navy stopped using Morse code,
the final message transmitted was "calling all.
this is our last cry before our eternal silence."
my grandfather used to tell me that
as a bedtime story.