Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ellen Goldburg

No One Knows How Far
the breath goes, though surely nothing stops the air
we breathe out.  It must blend in with all the air there is.
How could it leave? Where would it go? No--
even the last breath doesn’t die.  It keeps
pinballing its nosy molecules off others,
bopping along, so we’re breathing someone’s  
discarded breath, breath of Icelandic poppy leaf,
of feral cat, of a woman who screamed in Indonesia
and a batterer who finally sobbed.  I like to think   
of breaths carried on the wind falling for each other
like on a cruise for singles who nudge shoulders with strangers
as they crowd the rail when a humpback blows  
then shout in unison when she and her black
mirror-backed calf breech.  I like to think of each breath
that each of us, dead and alive, exhales from birth
bouncing its way around the globe and coming, generations
later, out of other people’s mouths as opera arias and
Viva La Huelga! and I miss you—don’t go.

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