Breathe (from “I Am Here and So Are You” out of Myths & Meditations)

*
I hold my breath. Breathe. I hold my breath. Hold it hold it hold it hold. The other keeps breathing.
Breathe. Under the covers. I must be breathing because I hear it. But so is she. Or it. Two breathe. Distinctly.

In the corner. In the kitchen. Maybe it is hungry.
I could tiptoe over there where the other breathes. But.
Nothing could have come in. The chain is on the door. Always I keep it chained when I am in, at night for safekeeping and during the day for privacy.

The air is hot in here. Breathe in more and faster.

She is closer now. Somewhere in the middle of the room. Peek over the covers with just my eyes. All is dark, except for the No disc blue light flashing from the TV. Slits of pale yellow peek through the blinds. A car’s headlight sweeps across the opposite wall. They are out there and I am in here.

I could go back to sleep and dream, where no one needs to breathe. Where specters float and drift on memories and fantasies.

The breath breathes. Consistently, like the grandfather clock at grandma’s house. But I’m no longer there and haven’t been in years. I try to remember what it was like, sleeping on the recliner with my electric blanket, strings hanging out at the fringes, the smell of wet dog. I couldn’t get to sleep anywhere else but the living room, to the soothing tick-tock of that old clock, in my warm sweatshirt and tube socks.

I am here. I cannot sleep. Daydreams give me no peace.

The other breath is right here, unaware (or doesn’t care) that it is in my space.

Breathe deep. My nose leaks. Wipe the goo with the sheets.

The breath goes on, unalarmed.

Inhale into ribs. Exhale out into spine. In-out. In-out. Concentrate. Eyes warm and light.

I listen for my own breathing.

I breathe.

And so does she.

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