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Where Were You Last Year?

by David Brazier

Breathe deep,
Breathe deep.

The air fills my lungs and then?
My blood receives
This grace by which
I live a few moments more
My every cell replenished.
With every breath
A part of me departs
And something new
Is put in place.

The rice I ate yesterday,
Where is it now?
In my muscle, in my bone.
The juice we shared,
Where has it gone?
In our arms and legs and all.

Last month
The rice waved in the sunshine
In other lands:
In the low flood plains
Of the Mississippi
Or Irrawaddy;
And the fruit hung
On trees in Cyprus
Sicily or Spain.

And before that?
Before that their substance
Was in the soil,
Was in the air,
Was in the seas.
Was in the seas
Waiting to be gathered up
Waiting to soar up into the highest reaches of the sky,
Waiting to become rain.

You and I
Are mostly water.
Last year
Most of each of us
Was in the ocean.
We circulated together
In the Atlantic
Or Pacific perhaps,
For we are mostly water.

And that water was lifted
By sunshine heat
By the impact of photons
Cascading down
Beating upon the ocean’s face.

And every photon
Comes from the sun,
From the belly of the star;
You and I were stars last year.
We chased each other
In the turbulent heart of the sun.

So who was it that lived in your house last year?
And where will you be next week?
Who is your true friend and who your foe?
And who will you be next year?
Breathe deep,
Breathe deep.

This air is me.
This air is you.
This air we share.
I give my substance to you and
You yours to me.

With each breath I am linked
In a single orbit
With the great forests.
My out breath is their food.
Theirs fills my lungs.
Last year
I was a tree
And the tree was me.

Each day
We gather up substance
And continue the task
Of endlessly
Remaking ourselves
From one another.

Each day
We discard a portion
And continue the cycle
Of endlessly
Returning ourselves
To others.

Day by day we change
And become one another,
The substance of the universe,
Stardust and all,
Passing through us each
And we through it.

Where were you last year?
Breathe deep,
Breathe deep.

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