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"While" by Beth Mulcahy

You lay in bed thinking about breathing while someone in another room coughs. Someone in another house is crying because they don’t know why, they just can’t not cry right now. Someone on another block is running - for the sake of it or from something? It isn't clear. Someone in another city waters plants in their garden, evaluating the growth, deadheading old bulbs, hoping fresh ones will grow, and thinking, I can do this, I can keep these thriving. Someone in another state isn't there anymore. She was alive yesterday but today she isn’t because somewhere in between, she stopped breathing and so she’s just gone now and the people who love her (she was someone’s daughter and someone’s sister) have to say goodbye and let her go and they won’t get to listen to her breathing or feel her in person anymore. Someone in another country gets ready for bed, asking for another bedtime story and help brushing her teeth and for another sip of water because she is not ready to say goodbye to this day yet. Someone across the ocean sits cross-legged on a yoga mat in her bedroom thinking about breathing and listening to someone coughing in another room and tries to imagine what it would be like to say goodbye forever to someone you love because they went to sleep and did not wake up in this world anymore.

Beth Mulcahy is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has appeared in various journals. She has a forthcoming chapbook, Firmer Ground, with Anxiety Press. Her writing bridges the gaps between generations and self, hurt and healing. Beth lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. Her latest publications can be found here:


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