Someone Breathing is a Sign of Order in the World

Laurel is slow, a weight pressing
ever more forcefully on a bird’s wings,
countering its inexplicable buoyancy
as though gravity were reclaiming the air.
If in the poison garden you are still
breathing, remember: this is a study
to see how a plant kills you, how
it makes you feel before you die.
Chaos: the lungs’ fight against collapse.
Chaos: the first creation, a shapeless
heap fighting for order, to be ordered.
So when the galaxy starts dumping
its stars, little dumplings not eaten
but tossed, and the sky grows dark
and darker, the darkest we’ve ever
seen, do we hold our breath?
No—this is the mistake of darkness.
Order is not a bomb that decides
whom it kills, but Chaoskampf
the hero’s struggle against the chaos
monster. The hero falters, and perhaps
fails, but still her spilled blood draws
oxygen—even when her lungs fail, she
breathes and breathes and breathes.


Brianna Noll’s first book, The Price of Scarlet, was the inaugural poetry selection for the University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry and Prose Series and is forthcoming in Spring 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring in the Honors College at UIC, and she serves as Poetry Editor of The Account, which she helped found. Her poems have recently appeared in The Georgia Review, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Hunger Mountain, and the Kenyon Review Online.

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