H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
The Asthmatic Boy Learns to Breathe Underwater
The asthmatic boy swims
in the community pool,
knows how not to breathe,
how to keep things to himself
alone in the water.
The sun is tired of giving
for the day; the water relaxes,
slow, into indigo.
The asthmatic boy finds,
quick, the end of his breath,
but he is alone in the water.
This is not an emergency.
He savors the churn
of the water like a heartbeat.
No one can hear him,
and he can hear no one.
This is the way he likes it,
the way he will always like it.
On the surface, the asthmatic boy
has no choice about breathing.
Here, he gives exhale
only when he wants to.
Here, at the end of his breath,
he wishes to be able.
Here, the water gives
the end of his breath back.
Every Time You Try to Live in the Sea, You End Up Back on the Shore
She gives you a propeller. You savor the weight of it, the way it takes shoulder-back and arm to bear, the way the wood knuckles against spine, reminding you how close to touch bone really is. You try being a submarine, but even with the propeller you can’t breathe underwater, and the wood rots.
She gives you a propeller. She says you deserve more, says you deserve steel, a whole airplane to fly you over the sea, but it’s all she has (and herself, but God knows she won’t give you this). God knows that really you only want gills.
She gives you a propeller. You stare at it in the sand. The shivering of the calf-muscle burn below your knees reminds you how long you’ve been trying not to sink into the coast. Soon, those calves disintegrate and the propeller beats you into shore like a blender.
She gives you a propeller. She always gives you a propeller. All you know now is how to receive one. Does anyone know how to receive a propeller, much less live in the sea? Certainly not you, not her, nor anyone you know. You give her a propeller.
Lex Bobrow is a writer living in south Florida. As a result, he writes a lot about hurricanes and citrus fruit, which makes him laugh at how Floridian he is. More than anything--at his core--he wants to be captivating and therefore powerful.
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