Three-Quarters of a Breath

Soft sounds count each breath with
clarity, mindfulness and motion.
Every swell erupts into hope, rises and falls
in fullness, leaving joy as a postscript.

Breathe in to fill three-quarters,
that which is left of a lung, a section
disappeared one sunny morning, a favorite
corner rendered useless by a scalpel.

Pushing air out even harder,
pain shoots down the spine,
suffocates the rib cage and the heart.
But the heart still loves, still smiles.

Life breathes in three-quarter beats,
arouses a heart to sing, a soul to pray,
a mind to dream. Invites love to play
under a delicious full moon.

Count the breaths. One. One-half.
How many birthdays, he asks.
Grandma, that’s a lot of birthdays.
A lot more to come, you say.

Smell a future filled with fresh air,
even in three-quarter beat. Hear the
sound of laughter, the voice of strength
residing in a cage meant to be opened.

Make songs with every breath when
air and music wed as one. Sing for
respite. Sing for hope. Sing for life,
notes attaching to the summer wind.

–Victoria Emmons, May 2017

For Jill.

Mon amour

do you know the sound of glory when it flies in your flushed face

and seizes your heart

ruffles your mind

farther from anything you have ever known

riveting noise clambers in your ears

oceans drip from your eyelashes

ooze through nostril chambers

until all senses have vanished

and your quivering lips can muster only trite and simple sounds

that your muddled brain wants to speak

but has no voice

Victoria Emmons © 2016

Letters

First placed in a dresser drawer
Migrated to a shoebox
Burgeoned to a steamer trunk
Hidden away in a space in the wall
Letters kept safe over 50 years
Uncovered in a renovation

Home owners open them one by one
The story of two lovers unfolding on paper
Over time, through wars, marriage
And children born and died, the letters
Filled with life and hidden passion
Secrets that only lovers share

Those who discover the musings
Seek to find the children, now grown,
With no inkling of correspondence
Between mother and father, letters
Revealing struggles, patience, deep love
And devotion one to the other

Email is not wrapped in purple ribbon
Nor kept in a dresser drawer, perhaps
An iCloud drawer to be savored later
Or uncovered like Ashley Madison clients,
Not quite the same as thin Air Mail paper
With the familiar red, white and blue logo

The Wedding

Azure blue sky outlines palm fronds
As they sway high above martinis
By the side of a crystal clear pool
Occupied by blow-up floats

A maid scurries to and fro
Bringing baskets of white roses
And Baby’s Breath to carry
Down a makeshift aisle

Folded chairs await the curious
Who are lucky to hold a ticket
To observe life’s challenges
On this day of reconciliation

A woman in pink pins a corsage
To a gray suit who stands in silence
Reliving a past of lost memories
And forgotten times from his youth

Spirits and champagne remain
Uncorked until the precise moment
When a union is celebrated
And the new pair adorned

Two by two, sometimes three,
The hats arrive, clucking as they go
Finding fault with the tartness
Of the Fish House Punch

A string quartet sounds a chord
Of harmony to break
The silence of a dull afternoon
That consumes onlookers

Girls in purple gauze and ribbons
Giggle at one another as they await
A march that seems unspoken
To all but a few

The planners huddle under parasols
Or large branches painting shade
Upon steamy sidewalks and tiles
That guide guests to their seats

Beads of fear dot the temples
Of the man about to be wed
His awkward jacket wrinkled
From age and history untold

A friend by his side whispers
Encouraging words as patrons watch
His future about to begin
In a borrowed black suit

The choreography of the dance
Is enough to bring tears to all
Who dare to witness this day
Of hummingbirds and vows

A veil of white appears
Surrounding a belly filled with life
Beyond reach of happiness
And a pair of satin shoes.

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014