Lauri Conner

How do you stop the hurt of needing to breathe?

                                                (for Toi)


you don’t.  let hurt and air sting the nostrils,    

allow bitter breath to trouble taste, and when you have


closed off from the rest of the world because hurt hurts; when you have


sucked in as much as you can — trust.

your throat can bear the burn       completely


let it out.  let words wash,  each time,

and feel the twinge


becoming breath sung through  the box of the voice.   muting

the cries, muting the  screams.   and as the draw continues,


continue to be touched–and open.

and what needs to be done is clear:


move to the wind pipe and be careful of the vulnerability

of your pull  the slow burn of hurt exact.   exposed.     budding 


                                                                        let me hold you close at night whisper

                                                                        sweet nothing sweet nothing


into the roots of your lungs.  pull them out if you need to.  pull

them out if you want.   let hurt occupy most of the space


                                                                        and when the breathing need of hurt blows

                                                                        through the gullet of the heart,


in the lungs where it collapses the ache— ache.  let hurt exchange blows

with hurt and hold, let the pain claw at the cavern,


                                                                        the chest, press my hand to your heart.


inhale it.  expand.       


                                                        and at the height  of distress,   relax   


push air out of the body, with it the waste.