• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 11
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The only way I can keep breathing, is to make art

When she told me, I couldn't argue, I stopped breathing.
My heart skipped a beat.
Then it all started again, without me trying, what bodies do:
Breath coming in, and going out,
And the pulse, along with the restart of my heart beating,
Counting out my life in its finite moments.

The amazing thing about my heart is how it tells me what to do:
When it skips a beat, or rushes frantically ahead of me
Making me out of breath, or when it stops me in my tracks,
Holds my breathing still for longer than is safe –
When it tells me that this is it.

Like when she told me she was going away for some time,
‘Not sure how long, maybe forever, probably not, but –’
Her voice faded out, she closed her lips. I stopped breathing,
Just for a moment, but in that second
I felt close to the edge, of what she'd said,
I turned away, staring down over the side of the cliff, looking down
At the waves crashing against the rocks,
In the darkness of a thought.
When I turned back
There were only her slender ankles being drawn up into the car,
The door slammed, her car lights flashed on
Along with the mechanical hum of the car engine as she drove away,
Until all traces of her had disappeared.
Leaving me in the arms of darkness long into the night.


The only way I can keep breathing, is to make art

Walking home, following the winding path,
I couldn't remember exactly what she said, even those seconds later,
All I knew was she was gone now, and
I didn't know whether I'd ever see her again.
So there was just my breathing, and the certainty of art,
Home in my studio, as I took hold of my harp,
Like my lover who’s no longer here,
And started to play the strings and make music,
Like I used to hold her in my arms and make love –
Like the coming and going of my breathing.

Music makes me breathe,
A melody is a request I cannot turn down once it's started,
It's a way of breathing that keeps me alive,
In a way that a lover can't, I know that now, but I think of her still,
Then the melody, wherever it's heading, forces me on,
This way, and then that, like breathing on automatic.
And it's a relief not to be on the cliff edge of rupture with my lover,
But to be here with my harp in my arms, breathing life
Into music, and for music to be breathing life into me –
A perfect union; I think of her, in the pauses in the melody –
But the only way I can keep breathing is to make art.