Poem · Poetry · Uncategorized

Breathing Rare Air

 

“I don’t think you can see it,”
said my love one day
during one of our connecting moments
when he gently dared
to pull away my self-imposed blinders.
“You are too close to it.”

He may be right.
Maybe I don’t see it,
this reality that few get to be in.

I work in a strange land,
a land of life
and a land of death.
The terrain is sometimes rocky and treacherous,
sometimes peaceful,
always momentous.
Every day I am in the midst
of the end
and the beginning,
all wrapped up in the movement of breath
and the wrenching of hearts.
I get to witness this,
over and over.
And my love does not see
how I can do this.

I breathe rare air.
It is the air of final breaths,
filled with spaces, longing, regrets,
love and letting go.
On a daily basis,
I am next to bodies as they sputter to a stop.
I take in the worn faces and the withered forms
barely taking up space.
I breathe this rare air.
The air of souls bursting to be free.
I hear the sounds
and smell the smells.
I breathe rare air.

You may wonder what this does to me,
this rarified experience.
I wonder, too.
Is this death I witness contagious?
Will my disappearing act be hastened
because I am seemingly comfortable
in this strange land?

I think not.

If anything,
entering this territory on a daily basis
is an invitation.
A chance to truly see.
With eyes wide open to what lies ahead,
there is no pretending.
No glossing over or dodging the truth.
I will end one day,
or, at least my body will.
There is no covering this over
with any effort to avert it,
whether it is in being as healthy as I can be,
or in avoiding what needs attending
before it is too late.

No.

Working with the dying
and breathing this rare air,
has opened me up in ways
beyond my comprehension.
I am being changed.
How could I not be?
All I know now
is that with each inhale of this experience,
my tightly bound heart
unwraps a little more.
I am softening.
And here is the nub of it:
I am getting a head start
on letting go
of all that does not matter.
I am being schooled in death bed academics
and I intend to be a straight A student.
So, maybe working with the dying
and breathing this rare air
IS contagious
because in learning to let go now,
and do the work before me,
my death can be more beautiful
when my time comes,
and my loved ones
more at peace.

breathe

Copyright@2017 Cynthia Cady Stanton

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