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Zhu, Rachel, Meditation on No Breath


Rachel Zhu
Age: 16, Grade: 11

School Name: Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
Educator: Sarah McIntyre

Category: Poetry

Meditation on No Breath

this is how to tie & tighten a noose (this is noose pose):
pull life-string around new neck—reborn: this is death-string.
a noose choked my big brother all the way to indigo
before he witnessed Light outside the womb.
they hadn’t named him yet so then they named him James;
does a name lose importance because the only place
it will be written on is a gravestone?
dear James: because of you I did not have
anyone to teach me how to fight with my fists—
but I taught myself how to fight with my mouth
or anyone to teach me how to break the rules or
anyone to teach me how to yell and how to run
and how to play pranks or
anyone to tell about my love life—rebirthed: life loves—
when you left the womb, eyelids shut against first—
and yet, final—light, what form did you take? pomegranate
seed, white marble, blind fish,  fold the body in three,
this is a caress, this is (child’s pose).
dear James: tell me about no air, I am
afraid of drowning, blunt blue on body’s beating breast.
turn the foot, straighten the arms into this:
taut like string. this is (Warrior Two).
tell me how not to be afraid—
tell me about no breath. there is this, too:
try interthread, interlace, interravel:
knit together hands, legs (eagle pose).

this is how to breathe.