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SOMETIMES, IF YOU STOP BREATHING by Jhilmil Breckenridge

This poem was written after a walk at dawn by a canal and a marina…

I was alone, and the images over the water were so meditative and so calm, and you could hear stillness speaking. I walked, took photographs, and came right back to write this poem. With my interest in yoga and meditation, I also found this attention to the breath echoed in this poem.

Sometimes, if you stop breathing
by Jhilmil Breckenridge 

sometimes 
if you stop breathing
you can hear
you can hear the sound
of the single drop of water
as it drips 
onto a bit of tin
amidst the grass and the mud
or the sound of the ducks’ 
feathers as they play 
in the eddies
or the sound of the sun
as it rises over the grey canal
kissing it to life
over treetops that are
japanese watercolours
and boats moored in the marina
memories of a time gone by

sometimes 
if you stop breathing
you can feel
you can feel the breeze
on the hair of your arms
the wind as it chills your fingers
and you exhale
dragon breath
sometimes
if you stop breathing
you can feel 
life
in death

sometimes
if you stop breathing
you gasp
as you take in the details
the masthead 
on a boat
a dragon
with horns?
a greek god
to keep storms away?
hammered iron and blue
a totem
a good luck charm
a protective spell

sometimes
if you stop breathing
everything fades
and all we have 
is the now
the single breath
pain vanishes
and all that remains
is bliss


Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet, writer and activist who speaks out about mental health, incarceration and abuse. She has just completed her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster. Her poems often worry about issues of feeling lost in a changing world, the immigrant or foreign experience, love and loss and longing, and nostalgia for times gone by. She is Fiction Editor for a South Asian literary magazine, Open Road Review. She is working on her first novel and when she is not writing, she is chasing clouds and rainbows with her iPhone.




~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~

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