Belly Breathing

I learned to write poetry in fourth grade

and it was like learning to breathe.

Not as you do when you’re newly born:

gasping, clawing, screaming your bloody way into the world.

But as they teach you at your first yoga class:

Calm, deep, loud, self-conscious.

Watching your belly rise and fall with amazement at its wavelike motion

As if it hadn’t been possible all along.

But the best yoga instructor forgets to breathe through the nose sometimes

And we amateurs only remember when we are reminded.

Sometimes I’m gently reminded by the grass between my toes

that I can write.

But most of the time

The world suddenly becomes

too bright

too loud

the hospital room too foreign.

And I have the choice

to scream so loudly the doctor recalculates my Apgar score


to sink further into my pose:

reaching forward on the inhale,

grounding downward on the exhale.

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