This poem was written May 26, 2020 shortly after the death of my mom. I still can’t get through reading it without tears taking over.
But in the middle of so much loss so many are facing in the face of this pandemic, I felt it might be an encouragement to know you aren’t alone. You aren’t. Not today. Not ever.
counting breaths dm perry we get the news, the findings are in, and so it begins, this dance with endings first, we count years, then months and days, then hours, and finally... we count breaths. life rattling in bones and flesh too tired, too weary to contain it. we count breaths, measuring their rhythm the rise and fall as i pray silent SCREAMS to heaven OH GOD, PLEASE LET IT BE BRAXTON HICKS but wait, contractions? is this rattle the end, or the universe expanding, contracting, surrounding, as a womb bringing forth push, don’t push. crowning, is it here yet? you breathe, struggle to break free, to let go, to be, to become and then the waiting between breaths. still, you hold on through the night till the dawn hanging on to the cocoon, to the womb of what was. clinging to the edge of realms till you know i'm not alone. you're not leaving me to be swallowed by need or fear or on-my-ownness morning comes with the keys, exhale here, take your first breath there born free, broken free, above brand new and now i count breaths breaths wracked with sobs. breaths that rail at the empty spaces. breaths held because my heart is aching, stretched open, it’s breaking i count breaths then moments and hours time stops caught in the spin cycle of what used to be, wave after wave pulling me under WAIT. just breathe. find air. breathe again. days, one runs headlong into another and another until days feel like weeks and weeks like months, but wait. it's only been 14 days, 336 hours breathe. i’m counting days now. soon it will be weeks, then months, & god-willing, years. because in the middle of that long night, in that liminal space between worlds, there counting breaths as time rushed and stood still, as it froze we both let go… and in letting go, we learned to fly.