A poem by Gavin Bryce, inspired by the miraculous first few hours of his son’s life and its maritime parallels. Illustration by Ricardo Bessa.
When you burst the air headfirst, it scattered down
your throat and set you going with a gasp,
the sails of your lungs kicked open
by this sudden ocean blast, like a ship
surprised and lurched away downwind,
scrambling to bridle up the dashing air.
I listen to your breath tumbling out-in
unevenly – then stop. ‘Not used to breathing yet.’
I lean over you, my breath like prayer.
I’d seen my father die, his breath undressed
in front of us, his sails of skin and bone,
the riggings of his blood sighing, then still –
but you breathe, and breathe again, and now you’re held:
a gust caught full in broad, new sails.
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