We breathe because we have to,
even when we don’t think we are.
Our breath is the voice of the moon,
the earth, the sun, the stars.
My yoga class breathes when I say
“breathe,” taking in what’s their right,
what they’d do anyway.
In this way, they ignite.
Sometimes, though, breath doesn’t come:
underwater, or in a coughing fit,
or with a collapsing lung.
I watched my mother die of it.
And so I breathe, grateful for the air,
and for just this moment to be aware.
About the contributor: Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she’s an associate professor of English at Muskingum University. She’s the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington); a full-length collection of poetry, Raising (Clare Songbirds Publishing); and three poetry chapbooks: The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Curiosities (Unsolicited Press), and Making (Origami Poems Project).