Gentle breathing

This is a new poetic form I just made up. It’s a cross between a sestina and a Steve Reich phase. The content is based on an emotional fantasy I’ve had since eighth grade: of sitting somewhere with someone, just feeling each other breathe.

I remember the night we sat on your bed,
I lay down; you came and began to stroke
The soft hair running between my neck and back.
The unexpected touch of your hands
Was so uncharacteristically, startlingly gentle
I almost couldn’t breathe.

How heavily you used to breathe,
Heaving on the narrow bed,
When you had more urgent things to stroke,
Rather than caress my back.
Then, the power and skill of your hands
Never quite seemed gentle.

The night, though, was gentle
And I lay feeling you breathe
There with me on the bed,
Absorbing the metronomic stroke
Of your fingers caressing my back,
The languid waltz of your hands.

Meanwhile, I folded my hands
Feeling the warmth and gentle
Swaying of your chest, in breathing,
Weighing in and out of the bed.
I wanted so badly, then, to stroke
Your quiet form reposing on my back.

I tried to reach across and back
But only stillness found my hands
The silence was overwhelmingly gentle
I noticed that I couldn’t breathe,
Couldn’t spill my warm breath on the bed,
Couldn’t release the air that felt your stroke.

But soon you slowed your peaceful stroke
And let your head rest upon my back.
In their pattern continued your hands.
In largo it was even more gentle,
And on my neck I felt you breathe,
Two figures sighing on a bed.

For miles around stretched the bed.
Your wearying hands soon ceased to stroke
The hairs between my neck and back.
The halting motion of your hands
Was so uncharacteristically gentle,
I almost couldn’t breathe.

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3 Responses to Gentle breathing

  1. elissa says:

    that was absolutely gorgeous. i loved the second stanza especially.

  2. Janine says:

    that poem encompasses every emotion i have been feeling this week. after months of sitting awkwardly on my bed, we slipped into kiss one night and have yet to stop. that poem is us. thanks.

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