Meditation on Breathing

Inhale.

Hold it in your lungs,

The air so weightless

That we soon forget

That it’s even there;

 

Exhale.

Whose absence is felt,

Whose presence is life,

Leaving us breathless

Thinking of it all.

 

Inhale,

But the paradox

Is when that air leaves,

It’s the heaviest

Thing imaginable.

 

Air might be weightless

But breath weighs so much.

Exhale.

 

The Woman Shrouded in Mist

The thin, delicate hands she held out to collect the rain had started to leak under the weight of the puddle she had amassed in them. She let out a happy sigh. The sensation of water against her skin was the only thing that made her feel as if she existed, and whenever the heavens opened and poured out its contents, there was no greater feeling. There was a time when she could enjoy herself bathing in the lakes of the woods, but those had long since vanished, paved over by settlements of cement and steel.

None could spy her form. None knew even her name. And in the mind, without a name, there can be no existence. Beings like her were permitted to exist only where no man can prove. Mystery was the only lake in which she lived now. She was like a dot of light in the eye, disappearing as soon as one focuses on it, a passing moment lost in a blink. The animals did not seek to comprehend, and they did not try to make sense of her, but the humans always did. They had invented stories of her, conflating legends into her, shaping her into something she was not until she herself could not recognize herself anymore.

In the earliest ages she was but a singular spirit of a lake, a manifestation of the lake itself, communicable and visible, elevated in time to deity. A manifestation not of one lake, but of all water. The storms and seas, too, were her domain, but her sisters of the lakes disappeared. The many spirits inhabiting the forests left without resistance. The animals once filled with vivacity and chatter became dulled and silent. She asked the birds of the air and the fish of the lake why they no longer responded to her, but as she feared, it was a futile question asked without merit.

But mankind continued to worship her, sacrificed to her, experimenting with the mechanisms and rituals by which to earn her favor, and she obliged in kind, becoming desperately lonely, but as man moved and interacted with the ages, others appeared. Unfamiliar spirits hailing from far away, garbed in armors or robes of foreign tribes. They, too, had been mere spirits confined in place to one location, but now they could travel with the people, and these interactions assuaged her loneliness.

A pantheon arose from the collisions of these tribes. It had become difficult to tell whether she was absorbing or being absorbed into these unknown goddesses, but it hardly began to matter. Her memory grew foggy at this point, lost in the countless legends and mythologies that arose as her influence spread and became disjointed. What was true and what was false did not matter. All that mattered was the mystery. The space between reality and fantasy was mystery, and these humans captured her within this gap like a fish clasped between two hands. It was the only place she could exist anymore as their observations covered every dark inch of the world. Even as cults of supremacy grew declaring themselves a tier of spirit above herself, she hardly cared. Promoted or demoted into deity or demon hardly mattered either. The slow death of mystery is what concerned her most.

Their eyes scoured her. Each mind that wondered for a moment whether she could be explained pricked her like a thorn. And yet they built statues to her… temples to her… her name changed again and again as her existence became a fractal… a kaleidoscope of countless reflections. Goddess of the seas… goddess of rain… goddess of love… mother goddess of monsters… Goddess only over the things they did not understand the movements of — the unpredictable. As soon as they did, it was “natural.”

Yet somehow… they had divorced her from nature. This cataclysm is what drove her into a horrifying despair, and her domain shrinked all the more as their understanding deepened. She could see the others like herself, once spirits of earth and heaven, now the personifications therein of all Earth and all Heaven, slowly losing ground as mystery faded. All save for one.

In time, those who worshiped her stopped for all manners of reasons, whether it was conversion or death. Her name disappeared from the minds and lips of men. She was the patchwork goddess, sewn together from so many different, almost contradictory concepts that she could scarcely remember her true origin, if she ever had one. Perhaps the continuation of her identity from the time of lakes was an illusion. Perhaps she was a Ship of Theseus, repaired and rebuilt from end to end until she was no longer who she was when this journey began. She did not know even her first name, if ever she had one.

What she knew was that she loved the sensation of rain. Standing atop the rooftop of skyscraping structures erected higher than the tallest trees of the forests, she felt a tingle along her skin. She sighed impatiently as a buzzing, automated surveillance drone peered around the corner, its strange wings moving so rapidly so as to be invisible. Dropping the water pooling in her hands, she vanished in a flash of nothing, wondering if she might reappear later when it rains again.

Esphragismeuos

This thing I have is happiness.

It’s not a feeling or a phase.

It’s more like everlasting bliss,

Which leaves me all the more amazed.

 

They ask how much it costs to buy,

But what I got was heaven’s gift.

So then they ask if they could try

To make themselves a duplicate.

 

The joy that’s found in me was free

Yet came at cost too great to bear.

Why did my savior ransom me

And heed this sinner’s empty prayer?

 

And that is why my happiness

Is not a feeling or a phase.

The gift of mercy, love, and grace

Can never be taken away.

The Shoddy Strands

All around are bells that hum

In glassy clinking taut with strings

A knot is tied around my thumb

Each tug a wave of rippling rings.

The dome of gray that serve as sky

And grunge of green that serve as grass

The net of bells go low and high

And only move when I pull back.

So fixed was I upon the bells

That sometimes echoed something new

Within my lifeless body swells

The thought that someone else could move.

Yet from the dome there came a knock

As soft as wool and sharp as death

It sends the ringing like a flock

Of doves to me from east and west.

Like lions do the bells now roar

“My child, my child, you’re not alone,”

The voice rails tender on the door,

“This empty land is not your home.”

This whisper begs me, “Let me in,

My child, before the darkness comes.”

The clamor quiets yet again

The gentle tug against my thumb.

Turtle Friend

My turtle friend will never die

Eternal turtle standing proud.

His turtle friends are standing by

Those jealous turtles shout out loud,

“Your immortality ain’t real!

All turtles die, in this we trust!

Eternal turtle, can you deal

With death like all the rest of us?”

 

My turtle friend stood for a while

The turtles watched expectantly

Eternal turtle gave a smile

And said with pure serenity,

“If only you could walk a mile

With me and see just what I mean.

Believe that my eternal life

Is more than just a dream I dream.”

 

The turtles cried, “Who has the time?

Our lives are short with things to do!

You might not care, and that is fine,

But that is only good for you!”

Eternal turtle gave a sigh,

“You all will live as long as me.

Your life feels short because you try

To rush through it so hastily.”

 

My turtle friend will never die,

Eternal turtle of the soul.

Because his turtle words are right

Just take it slow to reach the goal.