When The Medic Says Breathe

I breathe

I flicker in and out of my body
until the fireman holding my head
repeats the name they find in my wallet
like he’s said it every day of his life
he holds my gaze
and says stay

so I am pinned to the lobby floor

the sea of gloves above me says
there is an intimate distance
you keep from a dying person
a room you both inhabit
but they watch you from the door
I beg them
to touch my chest
to break the windows

they push my vitals
between their hands
and I learn
the human heart is two things at once
an organ and a creature
that does not know how to stop

so when the drug takes a white cloth
to my heart’s mouth and presses down
we both rise up
solar plexus lifted to the sky

fear is thickest when fed

the medic eyes the paddles
as the arch of my back turns this room
these lips, this code

I tow the line between how to
breathe and how to


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