Ode to My Breath

O breath, you are with me
even when I sleep—
you fill me, then empty,
expand and contract me;
always and everywhere your
inflation and deflation
are my inspiration—

O breath, you were the first
thing into my mouth at birth
and shall be the last to leave at death,
you have been faithful to me
longest—you stretch
when I am languorous
and contract when I’m afraid;

you hold the space with me
when we are—between
thought and action,
stillness and movement,
invitation and letting go.

O life
you are in all
breathing beings, even the trees
and greens receive what I give,
offer what I lack—a happy dance
of oxygen and dioxide.

O life force, you expand me;
I will be ash and earth
when you have left for good.

I want to count our every coupling—

each inhalation a birthday balloon,
each exhalation its release rising
up/up and away.

O breath, I have had enough
scares to know the fear of losing you;
I have held you too tightly
in my panics,
let you go with she-bear sounds.

O breath, only you
can gather those fears
of our final separation
back to now/here no/where—
rise and fall—

each/breath the only moment
that is.