My Sons’ Breathing by Natalie Meisner

Poem title: My Sons’ Breathing

Poet name: Natalie Meisner

Poem: The even sound of my sons’ breathing

both keeps me up & lets me sleep

far from infants now & closer to men

they are still as I pad silently through

the velvet heat of this summer night

to stand in the sweet wash: in & out & in again

on this pulse, their breath the ocean my heart 

all problems small & large are both scaled & sharpened

Double fisted vicious myths: purity, meritocracy

the domination of our bodies & the land

how one excuses the other for fascists

who play bait & switch with religion & nationalism

whipping up timeless primal fear:

“you have so little and the others are coming to take it”

whoever the others may be this shoddy the logic

shored up with bleeding leading highlight reels

provides duck & cover for guns for hire

& bullets for profit

I feel it in my body, a painful tearing as a word freedom

is wrenched away from meaning, is honed thin & deadly 

as a spite whittled prison shank & how are we to breath

at night with a thin blade between our ribs, we can’t

& yet... the even sound of my sons’ breathing both keeps me up

& pulls me down & ready for tomorrow

their eyes will open, lit with wonder & ask

If I want to see this neat bug, that cool rock, this new trick

& hell yes son, I do & I pray I will get to

each day until I am a very old & laughing woman

who nonetheless still wets her pillow at night

with tears for the world & its ills

& if I am lucky many more chances to creep in on feather feet

to your rooms while you sleep to stand in the

sweet wash of your breath, the ocean, my heart

in & out & in again & this needful insistent life pulse

End of poem.

Credits and bio: Copyright © Natalie Meisner

Forthcoming in It Begins in Salt, Frontenac House, 2023.

Natalie Meisner is a poet and playwright who got her start in the indie theatre and spoken word scene of Halifax. Since then she has worked across the country in theatre recently serving as Calgary’s 5th Poet Laureate. Her work uses the power of comedy for social change. BADDIE ONE SHOE (Frontenac) is a collection of odes to renegade women who fight the powers that be with laughter. LEGISLATING LOVE: THE EVERETT KLIPPERT STORY (University of Calgary Press) illuminates the life of a beloved Calgary bus driver and the last Canadian to be jailed for homosexuality. Her play BOOM BABY won both the Canadian National & the Alberta Playwriting Award. SPEED DATING FOR SPERM DONORS (Playwright’s Canada Press) was a hit at Lunchbox & Neptune. Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family (Fernwood) topped non-fiction lists and her children’s book My Mommy, My Mama My Brother & Me (Nimbus) is about a two-mom biracial family finding community. It Begins in Salt (Frontenac, 2023) is forthcoming in the spring. Meisner is a wife and mom to two great boys and a Full Professor in the Department of English at Mount Royal University.