Frances Richey

The Equatorial Jungle, 1909, Henri Rousseau, The National Gallery of Art

Ah-Breath Meditation

It was hard to see Eduardo in the low light. He was lying on his back, as if already a corpse. I introduced myself, and asked if he’d like to meditate. He nodded yes. It took too much energy for him to speak. I put my right index finger on his left index finger, an intuitive gesture. His breath was weak, but fortunately, steady. I kept my eyes open to follow the rise and fall of his chest, and followed his breath with my breath. I can’t say when time vanished, at what point I looked up into the green canopy of a rainforest. All around me, everything green. Sunlight filtered through branches like clarified butter. An enormous green bird was riding the thermals in and out of light. It was a liminal moment, an understanding that would come long after: this is how you can be in two places at once. I’ll never know how long I sat that way, following his breath, the lyrical glide of the bird, the green walls, the green leaves, the silence.

  Night Moths

   My father doesn’t feel them
   walk across his face,
   the glass, the black air
   on the other side
   where he floats, deaf
   and weightless.
   Lace Border. Poplar Sphinx.

Frances Richey is the author of two poetry collections: The Warrior (Viking Penguin 2008), The Burning Point (White Pine Press 2004), and the chapbook, Voices of the Guard, (Clackamas Community College 2010). She teaches an on-going poetry writing class at Himan Brown Senior Program at the 92nd Street Y in NYC. She is also Poetry Editor for upstreet literary magazine, Editor of Illuminations, the biennial anthology of poems and prose by Himan Brown Poets and Writers at the 92nd Street Y, and an Editor-at-Large for Plume Poetry Journal. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from: The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Plume, Gulf Coast, Salamander, Blackbird, Cortland Review, Nimrod and The Common, among others. Her poems have been featured on NPR, PBS NewsHour and Verse Daily. Her manuscript, “On The Way Here,” was a finalist for the National Poetry Series in 2019.

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Spring 2022