Tree at rest

I am always breathing and then

bright white screen flattens my breath until I forget

I am body, not just brain.  5 minutes.  Now.



seep, slide.

Breath quickens. I scurry

from my mole hole office

stride towards the tree

plant foot then reach shift hoist listen

to my breath calm.

I lean into the bark, find the sun

the branches the buds

Puffing breasts growing

Breath and then breath and brea


and this is the only


in my life


5 minutes later — a meeting

Manual Manual Emmanuel

framed boats in the water

brush strokes even


short and then

long blue watercolors stripe safe harbor

breathe boat one



breathe boat two



I’m changing the order

Manual Emmanuel

Breathe boat three



How many boats?

8 next count 10


Table of Contents


Breathe boat eight broad sail

Boats one and two sails alone

Breathe boat four

Table of Contents



Centers for Medicaid and Medicare


Boat 5 with red flag

Breathe in 5 breathe out six

I am always breathing and then

The meeting ends


Above lines to the prompt “I am always ………. and then I ………….” and off we go. A writing course assignment and I haven’t made the word count.  There’s something splendid and agonizing about a word count.  I had all I wanted to say about the “I am always” topic and then not enough words.  I’ll discuss my process getting from:

Where I started to where I ended.

I humored myself to imagine that I am always observant.  Take 5 minutes in a tree.  I’m full of observation in the tree, approaching the tree, leaving the tree. Walking through campus, usually. Sometimes. Not always.  Can’t say always.

At lunch today at the ever cheerful dining room of the Brown Hotel I shared my prompt with my mom (age 88, English Major) and she said, “Always optimistic,” which cannot be true.  Not for me.  She read my poem and laughed. That’s something fabulous, my mother’s laugh at my poem.

The only other “I am always” I could come up with was “I am always dying,” but I didn’t want to put my head around 500 words worth of decline,  so I opted for breathing.

The meeting verse (is this how you describe the second scene of a poem) was absolute truth.  That’s an always.  When I’m in particular meetings, I am always trying to avoid being critical, always searching for something in the experience where I can practice my imagination, divert attention to the arts.  So as the mundane of the meeting bored on I started observing (not an always) the framed print on the side wall. A watercolor of some boats.  I counted the boats with a full breath each.  When my practice was interrupted by some aspect of the meeting (table of contents, sigh) I started again.  Losing count of the boats, the process went on until the meeting ended.

5 Minutes in a Tree is about Sanity in the Midst of Chaos.  This takes many forms.  Counting breath and boats, climbing a tree, trying my hand at poetry.

Each a portal to sanity.  Each an antidote to chaos.


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