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How to Breathe

It was my birthday,

and the week was rotten.

Anxiety had torn through me—

leaving a gaping hole

where my stomach used to be.

I was pixelated,

myself but made of cubes,

in the most dead-end job

of dead-end jobs.


For my present, we escaped, only for a day

and drove to Lake Powell

to see how the water bathed the rocks,

watch them love each other.


We saw the sun—

how it hugged the mountains.

Despite the lead in my heart,

I could breathe.

We drove on, till the road led us to a farm—

where chickens roosted,

shaking their white plumage

and ducks waddled, friendly as dogs.


I looked out at a big, gold field

where buffalo wandered,

and oh how I wished

I could nuzzle my face

into the spongy, afro fur

around their neck,

and stay with them forever.


Leaving, we drove through Zion,

the evening crept in past twilight.

I stuck my head out the car window;

the cold breeze, becoming Autumn,

ripe with the smell of pine trees

whipped past me like a thousand spirit sprites—

My hair spinning around, a freedom flag,

I existed and stopped existing all at once.

And if I had burst and drifted off

in a thousand yellow leaves,

I might have been happy forever.

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