Through summer scorch, be like the trees, breathe,
and through the winter’s cracking freeze, breathe.
You gather fragments scratched on broken glass,
and poets drowned in seven seas breathe.
You find her locked inside, you open doors,
you lift her off her buckled knees, breathe.
A knife of pain may bend you over double,
but hover, swing from your trapeze, breathe.
You grip your breath too tight, now let it fly
free from its cage, and like the bees, breathe.
Marry your lungs and air, let steel become
a sigh, be like a leafy breeze, breathe.
Mary Meriam is the author of The Lillian Trilogy (Headmistress Press, 2015). Her first collection, Conjuring My Leafy Muse (Headmistress Press, 2013), was nominated for the 2015 Poets’ Prize. Her second collection, Girlie Calendar (Headmistress Press, 2014), was selected for the 2016 American Library Association Over the Rainbow List. Her poems have appeared in 12 anthologies, including most recently, Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters (Penguin Random House, 2015). Poems are published or forthcoming in Literary Imagination, American Life in Poetry, Cimarron Review, Adrienne, Rattle, The New York Times, The Women’s Review of Books, and Prelude.
This poem appeared in The Lillian Trilogy.