Relaxation tape

Some of us didn’t have lungs left. So when we lay beneath the loudspeaker sky—when we were told to pay attention to our breath, we had to improvise. Last week at the burn pit I’d found a concertina and hooked it to my chest. Now, when I inhaled to the count of three, I pulled apart its honeycomb bellows and felt myself fill. I pushed them together and the air moved through my mouth like wind through a dead canyon. The bellows inhaled again. I remembered the rhythm of breathing, the ease of it, the mindless fall and rise, the non-travail.

And now exhale, the static sang. And now imagine a billowing sail. I saw the waves behind my eyes, the bobbing boat. And now count back from five. The ocean swelled. And now from four. The ocean burned with oil. From three. I opened my eyes. Everyone pumped their squeezeboxes. The breeze of it flushed vultures from the trees.

Claire Wahmanholm
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