Oxygen

Right from the first moment of life, our lives are a desperate struggle against death. We draw in oxygen to keep us alive every moment. Here I imagine a moment of deep inhaling of oxygen from a cylinder: at the moment of birth, at the moment of near-death in a car accident, and just before immersion in a foreign oceanic world.

One

As he emerges, lips blue, seal-like flapping of his arms and legs
We play oxygen from a portable cylinder over his face
And watch the blue turn to pink like evening sky
Until he coughs and splutters and turns away.

Two

It was one of those catastrophes of life
That explode out of a void
When all is as stable as a summer park.
Whether falling asleep at the wheel
Or ploughing into traffic while at the wheel
Or wanton speeding on an empty road
The wrenching impact tears the senses
And speech is silenced by the paramedics
Clamping a mask to the face and turning a valve.
A heady breeze fills the lungs like
The last wind in the universe.

Three

In the Egyptian sea on the edge of the boat
The gentle lapping lulls me into silence.
I draw deeply, gagging spitting
Then, encouraged by my coach I pitch forward
Flying in a blue sea-sky
Coral cities below me
Commuter shoals flowing rainbow traffic.
Stray workers darting late to liaisons
Barber fish offering services to passing parrot fish
Clown fish busking on the coral ledge
And certain horror lurking on dark shelves
Poised over the deep which sweeps away
And leaves the bright lights behind.

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