We were beginning to stir after Savasana,
the corpse pose, in which one lies supine:
wings of the nose, root of the tongue,
spine and forehead and limbs all soft and easy,
stray thoughts just clouds passing through.

Though sometimes mine are more like bumper-cars,
this time, for a split second, I was breathing with the universe,
stars floating out
and rolling back in like the tides,
the darkness of space lightening, then deepening,
galaxies sailing gracefully
toward the edge of nothing,
then returning once more to the center.

When I got home I asked my husband,
from the kitchen where I chopped onions and celery,
“Do you know if they’ve decided
whether the universe is expanding or contracting?”
He called out, “There’ve been budget cuts; it’s shrinking.”

And then I heard a woman on the radio
who said we take in with each breath
some of the dust of the Gobi Desert,
the Sahara, the Serengeti Plains.
She said that we breathe in the dust of stars
and then, of course, we breathe it out again.

The earth is ever decomposing,
releasing the dust of graves.
We inhale particles of pharaohs and emperors,
motes of slaves and concubines,
of Black Elk on his eagle bier.

But then today at coffee,
I asked a friend what she thought.
She pointed out we don’t seem to breathe in
wisdom with the dust.
She thinks perhaps there’s been expansion
ever since the Big Bang.

Which would explain why the gaps are widening
between nations and tribes and factions and sects,
why the divorce rate is high, why families feud,
why so many appear to be eager to gallop
toward Apocalypse. (cont’d, break)

Still, if I lie down in my little death,
and close my eyes,
and take a deep slow breath,
I can see the Milky Way.

© Judy Bebelaar

published in Walking Across the Pacific

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