Tonight I’m to occupy a single breath:
to let it slowly out as an open kettle might
release its steam, left long on the stove.
Eventually all substance turns to vapor

& accumulates in the air, then falls
again as a globe under its own weight.
Bodies must be near each other, it seems,
even when the result is simple collapse.

Only the globe is never falling—
it’s the thing that imitates the globe
falls into it, as I now imitate, & fail,

the voice of my father, who sits breathing
with his dog at the mouth of the river.
My breath, too, rises & falls. Listen.


Copyright © 2016 by Martin Rock. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is a meditation on gravity and regeneration. My dad is a Buddhist and an activist who was extradited from South Africa in the ’70s for protesting against apartheid and now organizes to confront climate change; his dog is long dead. I measure my work against his and find it lacking.”
—Martin Rock