This is an ode to my breath
that circles the body and its stutter,
its ache and bend,
its opening and its bloodfall, its upheaval
and the long string of pleasure that falls from it
and is woven into the eye and hand of memory.
This is an ode to the darkness behind my eyes,
to the green pit that has darkened
and left its shell in the cellar of night.
This is the time when the flowers come forth
to suck at my lips, and the honey
that passes between us
is a soft whisper bathing the ear
in moisture and heat.
This is the night
when the spine becomes the straight road
of the body, up to the head
and down to the place of hushed entrance.
These are the fingertips that split open
and were healed, that stroke the life
into things, and mend,
stitch by stitch, that which has been
torn apart. This is a blessing
of feet, their bones and veins,
the splendid edifice of toes
huddled against each other.
This is an ode to the breath,
excited, tender, steady, musical,
warm and hushed, raising its open mouth
to all that may fall from the sky,
a blessing be upon its soft and shining name.
(c) Anya Achtenberg
Guy Owen Poetry Prize (Southern Poetry Review 1989), 1st prize
The Stone of Language (West End Press 2004)
Chokecherries: A S.O.M.O.S. Anthology 2006