A Body of Water

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the opening poem to my chapbook, "Shapes of Water." The collection of poems explores coming of age with cystic fibrosis in a poetry-memoir approach. It opens with a description of feelings after a lung transplant, then reflects on life growing up with the disease that led to that moment.

Submitted: July 11, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 11, 2012




Just before the new lungs came,

I saw living takes more strength

than those moments

when I felt myself

drifting toward eternal


Rest is what I needed

after chasing my breath

for 22 years—

I collapsed into blackness

as if it were cushioned.


Then returning was haunting:

I wondered if I should feel

like myself

or a living ghost,

with a fading history

of broken ducts

and muddied channels—


But what was my last respiration

before they cut out those parts,

wired me back together,

and I took my first again?

Was it a cry for one more inhale

or a whimper of surrender?

Was it a stopper on my past

or a segue: each breath

leading to the next?


Before the new lungs

my mind had made room

for this possibility,

but not until that second 

did my body shift like water


to let go, to let in.

© Copyright 2018 Katherine Russell. All rights reserved.

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