Jacqueline Jones LaMon
It is four in the darkness and you cannot breathe.
You cannot will your chest to expand, and suddenly,
this is all right. You grope for the language of internal
surrender. Everyday, you have a choice, this choice.
Your left hand memorizes the grooves and nicks
in your mother’s headboard. The textured flaws
keep you holding on and sane. You are used to living
on the memories of breath in your body, savoring
history. And so, your routine—two handfuls
of hospital visits each month—trips for breath in Brooklyn
when you are close to the unconscious edge. You race
for adrenaline to turn your heaves into tremors, to let
your fingers trace the oxygen that patterns your plastic tent.
And when you sleep, you are a fish, tired of her flop, too spent
to extract the valuable from the extraneous, another waterless day.
This day, your eyes focus on your mother’s bedside table,
her only good watch, stopped. Your pale green canister of Isuprel,
empty for weeks—your Tedrol tablets, expired—your mind, alive
and dancing. When the voice of stars beckons, you follow, inside out.
You see your mouth. You touch your lungs. Your breath is incandescent.