Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On a Certain Sharp Intake of Breath Heard Recently

Billions of years ago, a star flung off gas balls that coalesced to form the planets with all their elements.

One planet formed at just the right size to retain an atmosphere of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.

Life evolved.

And then, somewhere in a studio, Sheryl Crow drew a breath of air into Her lungs and sang about Her “favorite mistake.”

I listened to the sounds of Her voice from the radio as I waited at a stoplight. I daydreamed then, about a solitary atom of oxygen.

Born it was, in the elemental explosion and perhaps long ago combined with carbon in some cataclysmic belch from a volcano…then split again by the respiration of an ancient plant to ride the atmosphere once more alone.

Storms twist and convulse and the oxygen atom is drawn back down near to the earth and then comes the moment:

Sheryl breathes, draws it deeply into Her lungs and it rides through Her body like a tiny VIP passenger in a molecular limousine. In a microcosmic flash of energy within some cell of Her system, it combines with a bit of carbon, perhaps from the sugar in Her lunchtime tea, to become the substance of an exhale – a warm, audible exhale that She makes into sweet music.

Polar bears may sue but not even the Kyoto Protocol dared ban respiration, beautiful respiration.

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