counting breaths

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.