Breathing

Acrid air
invades my lungs,
and I’m coughing,
sputtering,
gasping at breath
that isn’t there.
It’s hot
and I know I’m dying,
know I’m fading,
know I need out
of the choking smoke.
My eyes rage
against the dark,
against the flames
and suffocation,
against the burning,
the charring,
my retinas igniting
among the death clouds.
I close them once more,
willing away
the pyre surrounding me,
pushing against the pain
in every atom of my body.
I can feel my skin peeling,
but I take one more breath,

the sweet oxygen
filling my chest,
the surprise
cascading through limbs
I thought were lost
to the flames.

And then I see.

I open my eyes
to the world without you,
to this life lived without you,
and the smoke is back,
bearing down on me,
burying me in loss,
and I know that
all air breathed without you
is nothing more than
fire to my lungs.

~Patience

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