I feel the weight and lightness of this poem "Breathing" by Mark O'Brien.
When I feel claustrophobic in my own skin, I imagine the iron lung in which Mark O'Brien so consciously dwelled.
Grasping for straws is easier;
You can see the straws.
"This most excellent canopy, the air, look you,"
Presses down upon me
At fifteen pounds per square inch,
A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean,
Supporting the weight of condors
That swim its churning currents.
All I get is a thin stream of it,
A finger's width of the rope that ties me to life
As I labor like a stevedore to keep the connection.
Water wouldn't be so circumspect;
Water would crash in like a drunken sailor,
But air is prissy and genteel,
Teasing me with its nearness and pervading immensity.
The vast, circumambient atmosphere
Allows me but ninety cubic centimeters
Of its billions of gallons and miles of sky.
I inhale it anyway,
Knowing that it will hurt
In the weary ends of my crumpled paper bag lungs.
Copyright © July, 1988 Mark O'Brien <email@example.com>. All Rights Reserved.
I am grateful today for the spaciousness and ease of my lungs.
Ah, I remember a poem of mine from the past, when once I was sad.
Two leaves on my chest,
Sweeping grief with every breath.
Now, I see my lungs as joyous windshield wipers,
cleansing the glass with each swipe so I can better see,
and breathe more freely and with ever-evolving ease.
Here is to Lung Power!