A Curious Breathing

by Kristi Johansen

Of edited responses and censoring, 
following conventions and conversations 
scriptures that 
heretofore blunted me

I Seep....Turn to me
I transgress, I dilate, I pour,
I weep ....Turn to me

Breathe, You are not scorned, nor stale nor discarded ....Turn to me
Breathe, gasp, 
A beautiful curious breathing
the eyes follow 
the hand, gently lean backward, inhale, 

It starts with a body, yours, mine?
vagrant sweetness,
hauling the years
the weight of this living

weight shifts

Move, relocate
    touch anything you can get your hands on,   
    (What is less or more than a touch?)
 I am 
touched to the quick, moved to the fore,
drawn to the heart
Is this then a touch?
ere’ one mother here ready to bust,

to nudge, 
brush up against 
and hold,
the belly 
rolling downward amongst
Shaded ledges and rests
Upon palates, canals 
through vessels

the centre gravity
with a gradual tightening
release... hang your whole weight upon me

Merge.... pushing, pulling, 
flesh, blood, skin 
gathering tears

the hand travels upward
step forward, 
change positions 
contracting and releasing


and the eyes? Follow 
curves, rolls, shades, crests and pinnacles
and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
To stroke, pinch, grasp, squeeze, 
leanin on the parkin metre humpin on the parkin metre....

Divine am I inside and out
ascend; an up-soaring
and here smiling through the heart
a murmur, a whisper 
a kiss on the winds. 

It is said that the best response to trauma is breath, touch and movement, it is also said the meeting with the divine mystery starts in the body. Qigong a meditative and old storied practice itself, threads through the poem a gentle instruction, of breath, movement and release. The poem, in conversation with Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’, speaks of the shame and the old stories a body has carried. Whitman’s poem urges, ‘urge, urge and urges’ ‘turn to me’. She turns. Shedding old stories, and there she finds soft whisperings of grace, love and forgiveness. 

Johansen’s story, was framed by the strong yearning voices of Franklin, Springfield, Black, Bassey and the theme to West Side Story at an early age. Further foreshadowed by the influence of a late 70’s defiance and anarchy she immersed herself in a creative life. Through photographic imagery, digital storytelling, drawing, performance and poetry both as an individual and within community settings she pursues the redeeming love of telling story in whatever its forms. 

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