artwork: carl larsson (from an old print)
by Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Around the globe the wind swirls
in soft gusts and monsoons carrying particles
of the quick and the dead
to our lungs, into our cells,
making us all, as long as we live—
and thereafter—part of each other.
We all breathe—no exceptions—recycled air:
nomad’s sweat swept on a desert wind, bull elks
panting in the clash of rut, the last squawk
of a chicken caught in owl talons, a sick
old man’s groan. And star jasmine wafting
on a summer night, pine branches broken under snow,
a packed-diapered baby’s howl of rage.
I smile at the new mother
who wraps her infant against the warm breeze,
double-boils his bottles of water,
wards off big family kisses,
as if the baby weren’t already
inhaling the second-hand breath of the world.
~ first published in Moondance