by Terry S. Johnson

I carefully fill the canister and place
the mouthpiece correctly. My inhale
begins across the diaphragm and stops
short too soon at the lower ribs, so
clogged with pneumonia are my lungs,
filled with unseen clouds of phlegm,
a color I do not want to envison.
The loud buzz of the machine creates
white noise. TV, birds, traffic unheard.
I dream of white clouds above the boat
docks, just down the street at ocean’s edge.
I think of days sailing across the harbor
to Boston, docking for an evening on the town.
But that is not possible now. More comforting
to imagine a different journey, even more wild.
Let’s say to the Crab Nebula, Horsehead,
Cat’s Eye, a zoo of uncaged animals swirling
around us in time zones barely measured.
We photograph the Omega formation
but have not dared to name one, Alpha.
That would mean we have discovered
the beginning, the Big Bang, the buck stops
here, and we humans rarely want explorations
to end. Our Earth, distant in billions of light years.
Yet green and blue and beautiful, home
for our bodies, no matter how damaged.

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