From a 2020, 24 hour Poetry Marathon that I participated in. I wrote one poem each hour for 24 hours straight. This was the prompt for my poem, 'Breathing': Write a poem about a physical activity you do all the time. It could be something mundane and chore related, such as brushing your teeth or mowing the lawn, or it could be something you do for fun, or for your health, like running or swimming. The poem can be about more than that physical activity, but it must start and end with it.
Breathing in great gulps of air, I'm now at the top of the cape
A meandering steep ascent of stunning beauty
How crisp and untainted the air is here
I pause and observe the slowing down of heart rate, of breath
and feel the strain of the climb subside.
Saying a big thank you to my autonomic nervous system
I ponder upon how we take it for granted this breathing business.
Countless breaths throughout a lifetime
a baby's first wailing breath, the last gasp of the dying
the bookends of a life - the signifier of life
Internal to external - circulating, invigorating
I have now learnt that the average person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute
We breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year
A person who has lived a hundred years? 840,960,000 breaths...!
How marvellous is this?
I'm thinking now about the difference between shallow breathers and deep breathers
And those who practice pranic breathing, diaphragmatic breathing or, holotropic breathing.
What a crucial element to life itself. How essential it is to well-being!
Yet most of us live constricted and tense, the stress of everyday living taking its toll
Better make the most of it, cherish it and nourish it
Take the time not to restrict it, to exercise it, to respect it.
And as I look out over the cape to the expanse of Bass Strait,
I'm breathing and I don't know where I end and the ocean begins.
Ajanta Judd, Photo and Words: Poem 2020; Digitalised Photo 2022
All Rights Reserved