4 7 8
I breathe in for four seconds Three Two One I hold myself for four seconds And in that time my other self has learnt to be fluent in confidence Each interaction is not a rehearsed reading Before a food order before a register call before a plea for direction Over there There are no stutters strewn from my lips when my tongue jams Like a sewing machine fed with too much fear and not enough care I do not leave a mangled mess of strangled thoughts still trailing from my mouth Over there, with care I lift the presser foot from my teeth I guide my vowels towards my consonants And lace my intentions into my veins Threading courage through the hole in my heart To finally stitch a sentence together I hold my breath for seven seconds Six Five Four I hold myself for seven seconds And in that time my other self has learnt to sleep without falling Does not need to count my curses to succumb to darkness Has learnt not to make a theatre out of my mind at night Where my day's demons come to play Over there I do not wake the alarm in my body Or build a bed for rationality to rest in Over there, my other self is not The protagonist of a horror film Stuck in the running reel of every dusk and dawn With each prediction projected onto my walls I breathe out for eight seconds Seven I hold myself for eight seconds And in that time my other self has grown gills between my ribs Each bone curving towards my centre Guarding the packets of life still left in me Over there I do not drown under the weight of my ocean When I am sucked into a spiral I do not choke on my shortcomings Or thrash against the rocks carved by my own nightmares Over there, my other self Has learnt to float among my currents' chaos And calms the rage feeding the belly of my whirlpool Still breathing amongst it all Still here despite it all I take a deep breath for nineteen seconds Eighteen seventeen sixteen fifteen Five four three Two One second I hold myself for nineteen seconds And all the seconds it takes To get to the next
Written by: Mayura Uthayakumaran
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