woman horizontal | tonglen in four parts

today, the exhale was the hardest.

a trust fall in giving and taking —precious tears and shadowed fears, irrupted hopes and radical imaginings — into a world that cannot hold them gently.

where supple lungs now resist the inhale, constricting to protect me from inviting in a swirl of noxious fumes (engineered to smother epiphanous dreams and embolden all manner of delusion).

i can only manage a sip of air: a shallow 4-count laced with doubt that queries for fulfillment.

then comes the subtle pause. a fleeting moment to contemplate beginning again.

i tentatively measure my next release: 6 counts, loosening and softening toward relief.

the next pause, extended, to steady my racing heart and test the limits of suspension.

but i cannot sustain emptiness for long and concede to the will of change.

quaking. inevitable. relentless. burning and swelling into an elastic 8 beats of oxygen.

palm pressed to heart, i yield to the sending, taking, giving, getting, sharing, receiving, filtering and transmuting of sorrow and despair into joy and wonder  —

a persistent rally for life-love-light.