First Breaths Never Taken


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4
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On a frosty winter’s morning sterile lighting
flickers: it carves shadows
on the walls. Like a movie
on fast forward, we rush into the room
swaddled in our grief. Planets in the void,
we plummet and scream; the distance between
the first breaths never taken. And never wakening
sleep reflects the frailty of the small.

Listen to this gift
from God. We snatch these 2 pounds and 3 ounces,
clutch them, tether them. With hysterical emotion
we wait, demanding: who is like God?
No answer.
Even hymns with no lyrics are bound
by the first breaths never taken. And the sleep,
never wakening, reflects the frailty of the small.

Amidst the darkest hours of the day, background
slowly quieting. As we watch, his echoes dwindle;
hold each other closer. Where are
you? Guide me through desolate valleys,
restore my soul. Try to hold him close. Cannot
feel his pulse. He died
to eternal life, those first breaths never taken.
And the sleep that never wakens reflects the frailty of us all.
4

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