Breath Work

by Kim Goldberg

This piece was originally published in Cascadia Spoke, a community publication dedicated to raising awareness of the Cascadia movement and bioregionalism.

We tied our hearts to a chain-link fence 
while the lungs of the planet were ripped from 
the breast and dropped onto trucks, boxcars
freighters from far away

We shed our old skin and stood naked
on the road, holding each other’s hand
our fragile skeletons as gate
¡No pasarán!

If an owl’s home falls in the forest
with no journalists around
does it make a sound
or a coffin?

We went to a mansion to bestow 
a citizen’s arrest but were given 
a jail cell instead

We hung from the canopy, swaying 
in the seam that binds heaven to earth, sacred
to mundane until the helicopter came
and commandos plucked us from the leaves
We could not breathe

We took the punishment of fists and slurs 
and came back deeper
We laced ourselves to chainsaws
and let fire hold our pain

We lay across a fresh-cut stump
wider than we are tall, sap still seeking
its absent corpus

We took our folding wheelchair 
to the war zone to metaphorically 
make our stand

We used our golden years to pass like water 
through the phalanx of thin blue lines

By day, we sang on the ragged edge of our
future, by night we listened to the forest 
keen for the disappeared

And our hearts fluttered and spun
on the chain-link fence like little brown bats 
echo-locating in blackness
but hung fast

Kim Goldberg is a poet and author living in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Each stanza describes something the Fairy Creek forest defenders did or experienced in 2020-2021, as reported by news media.

Liked it? Take a second to support Quinn Collard on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!