Thursday, October 19, 2006

breathe (not the song)

i came across this prose poem in my lit book this afternoon and thought it was beautiful. since my book group recently finished "one day in the life of ivan denisovich" it caught my attention. (i liked the book - but one guy in the group thought it was the most boring thing ever.)


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Freedom to Breathe
translated by Michael Glenny

A shower fell in the night and now dark clouds drift across the sky, occasionally sprinkling a fine film of rain.

I stand under an apple tree in blossom and I breathe. Not only the apple tree but the grass round it glistens with moisture; words cannot describe the sweet fragrance that pervades the air. I inhale as deeply as I can, and the aroma invades my whole being; I breathe with my eyes open, I breathe with my eyes closed--I cannot say which gives me the greater pleasure.

This, I believe, is the single most precious freedom that prison takes away from us: the freedom to breathe freely, as I now can. No food on earth, no wine, not even a woman's kiss is sweeter to me than this air steeped in the fragrance of flowers, of moisture and freshness.

No matter that this is only a tiny garden, hemmed in by five-story houses like cages in a zoo. I cease to hear the motorcycles backfiring, radios whining, the burble of loudspeakers. As long as there is fresh air to breathe under an apple tree after a shower, we may survive a little longer.

1 comment:

KCSimmons said...

I love that poem! And I've never been able to really get into poetry. There's nothing better than the air after it rains... but I would have a little spin on the fresh air... with the smell of fresh cut hay and mink... freedom to breath and a very vivid memory of home. :o)