“When I Spoke to You of Souls and Skin”
When I spoke to you of souls and skin,
I think both of us had to stop to catch our breath,
for such a thing to have been said on a clear day
when we both could have seen for miles and miles.
You, in a larger state than the one in which I live now
and I, at the crossroads, sit looking over your shoulder
through some window neither of us would have known
had we not come to a place with four corners for our faces.
But I think I meant that these stories are like a breath,
and we can measure and count them by seconds multiplying
until we arrive at how we were both breathing in the air
filled with some story that was filling my lung at the time.
So, I said that stuff about stories and souls and skins,
but I really meant that I was just trying to breathe
and how breathing in can feel like “once upon a time”
and an exhalation can often feel like “the end.”
And the space between breathing in and breathing out
is a line that gets drawn into the place where stories
float in chambers and begin to swell until a moment
wherein they can grow and swell and be and be breathed.
And maybe a poem is like a thin whisper through pursed lips
or a shout through the wide open mouth of a scream.
And maybe a the panel of a comic srip or a graphic novel
is akin to how we breathe upon glass to see our air upon the pane.
And maybe that piece of non-fiction, that moment of truth
is a chance to put the bellow to the breast to hear the friction
of how our lungs are filled with a sense of reality realized,
a need to listen to the inner workings of a wondrous world.
And doesn’t the body revel in the sense of a story made up
on the spot like the passing of a scent in field far away?
How one can almost choke upon the smoke and ashes,
breath from a beast in a lair in some other land we now know?
Maybe this is what I meant all along when I spoke too quickly
about souls and skins how the essence of a story could be embodied
when what I really meant is that I had found myself breathless for a time
until I discovered that the opening of a book is like a new breath.
And that the sharing together of these stories as we are wont do
is a sacred chance to breathe in the same air of a story born of air,
and if we do, as is our vocation, pass a book into the hand of another,
it’s our desperate way of asking, “Take this while I catch my breath.”