The initial ragged gulp comes
before being fully delivered;
nose bubbling, mouth gaping,
swallowing salty brine.
Building to great gasp and cry.
clear of amnion, uncompressed,
free to breathe an invitation to life.
On automatic, one follows another,
each breath fills, refreshes, vitalizes
until cough, sneeze, wheeze, hiccup
interferes with run, climb, ride, play.
Once rested, mucus clears, muscles relax
to open fully to the ebb and flow of
a predictable steadying tidal volume,
rising and falling, faster and slower
through thousands of
sunrises and moon falls.
Until a weakening of capacity
the flow struggles to fill up again,
reaching shore and pulling back too quickly.
At times silenced, stilled, emptying completely
then a gulping swallow, sighing softly, sometimes rattling
trying to loosen the grip on the shore of life,
no longer anchored fast, drifting unmoored,
to land safely with a last gentle breath,
delivered peacefully into the hand of God.
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