by: d. heidel

[Thank you to Ludovico Einaudi.]

Can I tell you how it feels to come up for a breath?  Allow me to tell you how it feels to come up for a breath.  The full day has been spent swimming, the sun sparkling a thousand gems on the surface of the lake.  Free gems.  Unmined, uncut, impossible to commodify even by the giants of commerse that we have with us, looking over our shoulders, holding our hands with their vice-like grips… I digress.

Free gems.  All day.  The sun, hot.  The water, cool.  And down and down you go, to find a gnarled log (waterlogged and returning to the earth even here, below the water), to find a small school of bluegill (curious, unafraid, moving only a couple of inches at a time to stay just beyond my reaching fingertips), to find–, to find–.  It is cool below the surface.  Look up and the sun is glimmering but muted, as if it’s moving through a dream.  A dream of flight.  A dream of weightlessness.  I am here.  The fish are here.  The bottom, just below me, remains relatively untouched by my feet which move this way and that to adjust my flight. 

Ten or fifteen feet down.  Twenty feet down.  It’s all the same.

The fish approach, more curious than afraid now that I’ve stopped reaching for them.  I release a few shimmering orbs of air so that my body can drop closer to the log, closer to the green flora that shifts this way and that in the breezes of this strange, heavy atmosphere.  A little lower.  A little closer.

My chest grows tired.  My arms grow heavy.  My body wants to rise now.  My mind wants to stay here.  The spirit is free down here, but the flesh is weak.

Orbs of air, like weightless quicksilver, slide from my nose as I roll to my back.  I watch them shimmer up and up and up.  Free.  Unprocessed.  Unmined.  Unmanufactured.  Free.  As my body, too, is free.

And I need to rise.  I move my arms.  My toes just reach the log now, give a little push (but slip a little on the algae skin of the old branch).  My arms pull, my legs kick.

My chest is nearly empty of air now and filled with a new kind of burning.  My arms, moving, feel heavy with exhaustion.  The blood moves through them, but nearly fruitlessly as there is nothing to move.  No air, no reprieve.  Just movement for the sake of movement for the sake of a still-pumping heart.

Movement now.  And burning.

Can I tell you how it feels to come up for a breath?  Allow me to tell you how it feels to come up for a breath.

I remember that day now, so far away.  I look down at my hands on the desk.  They are chewed up, tired from work.  They are cracked and broken in some places.  For this moment, they are still.  And I look at them – these appendages that were given to me freely.  It is nearly dusk here now, nearly night.  And still, there are tasks to be done.  Food to make, shelter to repair, secret wisdom to uncover at the cost of uncovering said wisdom.  I must move.  And move.  And move.  Regardless of exhaustion.  I must pay for these items.  They are pre-packaged and doled out accordingly.

Can I sit here now, though, and tell you how it feels to come up for a breath?  Allow me to tell you how it feels to come up for a breath.

A few words shimmer and break through the interstice between dream and all that is real.  And, in that momentary flutter of flight, allow me to tell you…  Please, hear a few words…  Allow me to stay here for a moment more.  And a moment beyond that.  And maybe, one more.  Thank you.