My attempt to write a poem about breathing the sky was an epic fail.
I was trying to show the connection between the sky and the wind and our own breath. Because we use different words to name them, we see them as separate entities existing in different places. But what is the sky? It is the atmosphere as we experience it visually, extending far above us. What are wind and storms? They are the atmosphere as we feel and hear it in motion. What are we breathing? The atmosphere. Day and night we are unconsciously breathing this same ocean of air from the moment of birth until death.
The first two lines of my poem were:
We breathe the sky
twenty times a minute
My writers’ group was sure this was inaccurate. “We don’t breathe nearly that fast.” I had found the information with a quick Google search. It seemed to me that this fact was simple to measure and extensive research wasn’t necessary. On the other hand, I wasn’t willing to justify my information with, “Well, I googled it.” I expect sound evidence for any fact and “I googled it” wouldn’t convince me to accept the credibility of someone else’s fact. The scientist in me expects verifiable facts and evidence. So, the next morning when I woke up I set my timer for one minute and counted my breath. The result was sixteen breaths in one minute. I stand by my number. Twenty breaths per minute seem like a reasonable average while going about one’s day.
Then there was the ending:
blow my skirt
caressed by the sky
A group of men automatically assumed this was a skirt blown upwards. On second reading I understand how that might be assumed. The words “rustled my skirt” might have created a more accurate image. What I was attempting to convey was that moment on a hot summer day when a breeze gently waves the skirt around your legs. I wanted to convey how it made me think of being caressed by the atmosphere. That same atmosphere that is indistinguishable from the blue sky.
I see more work is necessary for composing words to deliver my thoughts on the page.