When Air Isn’t There

Photo: CA Hawthorne

Old pic of the Acapella that helps breakup the mucus in my lungs. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Chest tightening in its struggles,
a reminder of need,
a recurring panic when I can’t breath.

One inhale,
and then another
and still there’s nothing there.

Tingling beneath the skin spreading.
Lightheaded as stars appear.
Sweat coats my skin in glistening fear.

Fear feeds anxiety
causing the breaths to come quicker,
a desperate effort to grasp what isn’t there.

Color draining.
Equilibrium fleeing.

The mucus blocking the oxygen I need
refuses to surface, of course,
because these damaged lungs possess no force.

A few minutes on a bench
greeting passersby with a pained smile,
their hurried steps passing my ongoing trial.

Determination born of survival,
a need to fight to my gasping last
when my need for air has past.

©October 2015, Christina Anne Hawthorne

5 Replies to “When Air Isn’t There”

  1. Pingback: When Air Isn’t There | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  2. Oh my, I could feel my breath becoming shallower and shallower as I read. Having some breathing issues right now this poem almost sent me into a panic attack! I feel for you, Christina! I can only imagine your struggle. But I know you are strong, Your continuing to fight gives me inspiration that if you with your more serious condition than mine can continue and fight and improve your lung power, than I can too!

    • I hope you’re doing okay, Laurie. You describe well the vicious cycle that are breathing ailments: constricted lungs followed by panic that leads to anxiety and further difficulty breathing. This is an ongoing issue for me—sometimes better and other times worse—and long I’ve wanted to capture what it feels like. Thus, this poem. Unfortunately, triggers at any point in the cycle can thrust you into the cycle anew, be they environmental, emotional, or physical. Anxiety is my most common trigger.

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