Breathing Lessons

Shannon Cuthbert


Before I could draw
I turned paper into wings
And a spill of cranes
Folded inaccurately
Were swept out my bedroom door.
Down the stairs
Mom braided wheat
And stems into songs
She hung on all the doors in town.
Wreaths open mouthed o’s
Exhaling on sidewalks
As we slept.
In an era when
Cranes and curtains still
Breathed by my bed,
Filled my lungs for me
Nebulizer pumping
As the air turned chalk.
I whispered wants into that mask,
The way it winged,
As Mom wet many cloths against me
Let them hiss
Radiators to sleep,
Spilled her hands
In the act of the weaving,
Thrust up windows to let them out.



Shannon Cuthbert (she/her) is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcarts, and have appeared in journals including Dodging the Rain, Hamilton Stone Review, and The Oddville Press. Her work is forthcoming in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Sparks of Calliope, and Lowestoft Chronicle.