Describe a morning you woke without fear

 Jacqueline Jones LaMon


It is four in the darkness and you cannot breathe.

You cannot will your chest to expand, and suddenly,

this is all right. You grope for the language of internal

surrender. Everyday, you have a choice, this choice.


Your left hand memorizes the grooves and nicks

in your mother's headboard. The textured flaws

keep you holding on and sane. You are used to living

on the memories of breath in your body, savoring


history. And so, your routine—two handfuls

of hospital visits each month—trips for breath in Brooklyn

when you are close to the unconscious edge. You race

for adrenaline to turn your heaves into tremors, to let


your fingers trace the oxygen that patterns your plastic tent.

And when you sleep, you are a fish, tired of her flop, too spent

to extract the valuable from the extraneous, another waterless day.

This day, your eyes focus on your mother's bedside table,


her only good watch, stopped. Your pale green canister of Isuprel,

empty for weeks—your Tedrol tablets, expired—your mind, alive

and dancing. When the voice of stars beckons, you follow, inside out.

You see your mouth. You touch your lungs. Your breath is incandescent.