This is an ode to my breath

that circles the body and its stutter,

its ache and bend,

its opening and its bloodfall, its upheaval

and the long string of pleasure that falls from it

and is woven into the eye and hand of memory.

This is an ode to the darkness behind my eyes,

to the green pit that has darkened

and left its shell in the cellar of night.

This is the time when the flowers come forth

to suck at my lips, and the honey

that passes between us

is a soft whisper bathing the ear

in moisture and heat.

This is the night

when the spine becomes the straight road

of the body, up to the head

and down to the place of hushed entrance.

These are the fingertips that split open

and were healed, that stroke the life

into things, and mend,

stitch by stitch, that which has been

torn apart. This is a blessing

of feet, their bones and veins,

the splendid edifice of toes

huddled against each other.

This is an ode to the breath,

excited, tender, steady, musical,

warm and hushed, raising its open mouth

to all that may fall from the sky,

a blessing be upon its soft and shining name.



(c) Anya Achtenberg


Guy Owen Poetry Prize (Southern Poetry Review 1989), 1st prize

The Stone of Language (West End Press 2004)

Chokecherries: A S.O.M.O.S. Anthology 2006


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