i inhale…….
countless little chunks
of a big formless wind
hasten to get inside of
me. penetrate me. they
have been waiting. my
permission granted, my
gates lifted, they fill me
up. and now i am
full—the me that i was
before the breath is
becoming a bigger me.
fuller with a
formlessness that is
becoming me too. i
hold me in.
for even just a little
longer. to float me up
taller, away from my
backside seated down
there. to see the world
and the person sitting
across from me from
way up here. the pieces
of air stinging my face
are much thinner than
the ones that filled me
up down there.
my tightening stomach way
down beneath my
throbbing heartbeat
rushing up toward my
face. my heart shoving
muffled thumps onto
the inside of my chest.
my pumping heart
beating, dancing
footsteps down onto
my will to keep this
much of me in for just a
little longer. the back of
my throat looking up at
me expectantly, waiting
to help push out the
parts of me that i am
holding now.
i release myself. and

“so what is it specifically that you suggest we do, then?” his question sneaks up in me. racing… squiggling its furious tail behind its steadfast confrontationalism. “just because it seems like you have a problem with what i wanted to do.”

i inhale. my eyes flitter off to the left, rhythmically gulping in measures of the sky’s moonless dark before turning a fluid backward roll in their sockets. it is a moment. my cheeks suck themselves, petting against my sweaty canines, massaging a swelling heat into some other warmitude… my eyelashes beat together with a rapid softness scored by the vibrating pucker of the lids beneath and above them—not quite all the way closed but refusing to open. behind those lids, my pupils dart inward, upward, studying the little piece of light that finds its way in through the darkness, contouring degrees of shade with its methodical touches. it is a moment. just long enough for the light that found its way in to begin to poke out allusions to the night sky’s bright stars, to begin to adorn a darkness that i see on the inside of me. the light pokes one by one in a timing that’s nice


i get ready to start to open my eyes as i push an exhale on out and release myself. the little bit of light coming over from the dark night sky floods on in, getting on into the space that I have been making for it. and then, there go his eyes. his eyes across the table going on and looking at me like they feel like i owe him something. his expectant eyes getting all up into my vision. and i start to see them, floating around level to my own eyes, eyeballs sitting up in their reserved depressions and sending an unswerving line of focus on over toward me. and i go
ahead and look.

and we lock into a scrimmage embrace, each recognizing our accountability to this hold—the coffee-tone of mine up against the hazel of his—my intention and desire funneled through my stare, ready to pour into a place just alongside his filtered expectancy and distilled quiet. getting ready. i fix myself to respond with words. “you just finished telling me what you want to do, when
did i even have time to have a problem?” i ask—a question that
was also a lie.

the whole
entire back of
me opened up
and with a
stunning flash
of light—that I
could only see
the echo of
from my
me was
sucked out,
and i pulled
up in my seat
a little more
erect as the
last drops
were siphoned
away and the
back of me
was sealed up
again, much
more slowly
than the flash
that had
preceded the
sucking. that
me, sucked
into the light,
unreal version
of me that i
had just
before spoken
with a
question that
was a lie–a
fabulated me
with no time
beyond what
the he across
from me can
figment for
me (or what
imagination of
figment for
me, anyway) –
and also a me
that does not
have a
at least a me
that genuinely
reads problem
literally so as
not to leave
any space for
what else he
might have
been asking
this problem,
this semantic
translation of
his hurt
doubt, my
confusion, my
hope, my
belief, my
intuition, my
ignorance, my
naivety, my
anxiety, or
some other
fissure to let
in air from
places… some
of multiples.
that empty,
me, that was
also a puppet,
from the
heavy flesh
and reason
that remains.

“well,” he tries again, “you’ve actually been responding since i opened my mouth. the way you look over here at me, the way you breathe.” looking.  “you’ve been laughing.” getting ready.

getting ready. “i’m listening. i’m trying to hear you and take it in, and my body is going to have responses. if i’m living, this body is going to have responses.”

looking. looking elsewhere. “right. right, so,” looking, “i’m saying that your responses are acting like you have a problem.” looking. “or, i don’t know, like you’re restless, like you don’t want to be having this conversation.”

“well.” looking. “mkay, i feel like i haven’t been having this conversation yet. i have been listening. i feel like i do want to be having this conversation, but maybe, yes, maybe i don’t. either way, i haven’t even had a chance to have it yet and you’re already making me a foregone conclusion.” locked in embrace. “and i’ve actually been working on my breathing, so maybe what you’re seeing is something you haven’t seen yet and don’t know how to read.”

looking. releasing a bit of himself. getting ready. “i’m not meeting you for the first time right now. i know you. i have been paying attention to you for a long time. how am i supposed to have any idea how to be with you if i have to meet you all over for the first time every time you’re breathing in some way that looks like you have a problem?”

looking. squeezing “i don’t have a problem.”

“then maybe you think i do.”

holding. “i think i would at least not dare to insist that i know you

better than you do.”

releasing. spilling. “why not?” holding. “no, i don’t know you better than you do. i’m sorry. but – i know you. i do. why not insist that? and why not insist with me? let me feel like you have some stake in what i’m becoming?”

“i see you.” spilling. then clenching. “you’re doing fine, okay? without my supervision. do you need me to comment on that for you to know it? i’m just trying to be as present as i can be for myself, and if i have to keep checking in with you…” waiting. “in what you’re becoming? so you’re allowed to change, then?”

spilling. avalanching. “i never said you can’t change. you should change. you should grow. but, remember me, okay? how am i supposed to get into who you are without you letting me in?” getting ready. “if we’re together, then we don’t have to do it all alone.” getting ready. “but, if you don’t tell me what’s going on with you, i can’t know.”

ready. yes, i see now… and i
see you now… and we do
not agree… we do not agree
and we do not even
approach disagreement from
the same location, toward
the same destination… we
do not agree and we both
understand disagreeing to
mean different things, take
on different responsibilities
with relationship to that
disagreement… you feel like
we have something more to
figure out here… to preserve
some other connections we
have the potential of having
—to nurture a deeper
understanding of one
another that can fortify other
relationships that we ought
to have… i feel like our
connection was an
agreement that we thought
we had, that i now realize
that we don’t—and so we do
not have a connection… i am
ready to disengage from this
embrace and hopefully not
to touch you so tightly again
any time soon.

i look away. at once i am lighter, loosened from the lock on eyes i have just unfastened. he is right, i do not want to have this conversation. rather, i do not want to spit words back and forth at one another now that i know we are speaking different languages, without the means to translate. i am sorry that he has fallen   prey to the ravenous beast of a belief that we helped birth together, but i am no longer a believer and cannot nurture his faith in good conscience. i release all of myself in this moment, dissolving my cells individually into the everything around me. i float into everywhere, judiciously, rocked in the ebb and flow of a ceaseless and unstable merge. and i find my highest delights entwining parts of my everything with the wind—containing myself only temporarily in these dancing flurries, riding breathy whispers and secrets that i release after the dance is over. so that they do not belong to me.

About the Author: jumatatu m. poe

About the Editor: Tara Aisha Willis