Breath’s Translation

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Opening my front morning 
where the new day’s air washed my face with inspiration, I stop to breathe
not fixate. Just let it come inside, welcome, I say aloud.
I can no longer blow the words out.
A small pilot light under now boiling water
steaming the kitchen
whistling behind me
though not like before
the cancer stole my shape.

It’s a candle on a cake lit bright as the sun behind those budget cumulus clouds.
We never owned much
we grew up resilient instead.
Disposables, as all things then, in shapes of my own images told and folded into
my toolbox filled with the stories of a life.
But isn’t that your life, too?
Memories aren’t real they are
my words
my work
my world.
I turn inside, ice blue and angel white.
Light beams around me -
just like the saints at the Lotteria shops on 8th street
in little Havana, a real neighborhood wherever women
walk to jobs to have no say.

Today it’s easy breathing.
Every bird misunderstood
though they came to chitter to me
as best they can again
And again still
they all speak a different dialect
all telling me their versions of the air up there.
Catching the vortex into a tornado of wings.

I listen, anyway. Just do one thing right today - breathe.
Then so onward to taking down the first step
leaving the door open, I’ll return
should I forget my way
I’ll know by morning light
I’ve crossed the line again.

Without my naive understanding in a bag on my back
holding pens and half full books of notes of books of notes.
Flying behind me still following they’ve something they must say today.
Don’t speak let the day speak instead and listen to the birds again.
Today I hear them
a wren telling time
to a dove
a flower says a starling
warmly, goodbye from a hen.
Today from the wild geese
who leave their pen and notes
on a rock beside the forest bed,
did she die there I imagine not, or at the beach?
Though wrapped in an eggshell cowl neck cabled sweater, her
round spectacles, not very special or would you know it was her barefoot and barnacled
with burrs well stuck to her
legs, not letting go.

From the next step the next day
I concentrate not closing my
eyes or ears.
No research to do, nothing to cross off my list.
I do put the papers away in my pack go
worry and doubt. Because
they come back at will again
to shake my confidence like milk money.
Allowing the change to slip through my fingers -
knowing there’s gonna be trouble.

If money could do the weather justice:
No plants or grass would grow
where I stood.
And no birds to grow a feather, no other breath can come
to take me down the last step.
No hand to hold to let go again
and no time to tell me when to return.
A letter found just before the fence stuck to white pickets by wind,
Dear Death,
Said the birds
here’s someone you should meet alongside us please
bury her shallowly
without fanfare or dust.
Gently very sweetly
please let her go
we will come and let her know
what we’ve tried to tell her
in all of our prayer’s languages
and with the shapes of her life
her story of her memory.
We leave the last book open as the door closes behind her and locks. Nothing more.

I read aloud to no one
“Begin here.”
Then no more - the nests empty out as she looks for those wild wings. Now
then the time is right she knows
said the Raven to the crow
it’s okay, we have her and it’s time to go.

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