The Lyric is the Desire to Breathe

Denise Calvetti Michaels

The lyric is the desire to breathe underwater, diving for what was forgotten, to rescue this handful of fragments.

To closely observe ourselves, to take careful note of the color of our eyes in the mirror, required that this take place against the backdrop of sunrays lapping through the open window, the bottom pane raised slightly, enamel smell of the freshly painted ecru sill, the pair of billowy wine-colored voile curtains we hid behind to watch our grandmother cut the pink roses for the vase she placed in front of the statue of the Madonna Uncle Frank brought back to her from his annual trip home to Mexico, bringing this interlude, our performance to a close.

In other words, I didn’t know that someday I would understand that the afternoon light, its angle against the window pane, was essential to the way we saw ourselves. In a room with no windows we couldn’t have enacted this.

In the barn with the feral cats, in the midst of the dark forest, something else would have transpired.

Against the backlight, we were given the mirror of ourselves.

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