Peter Davison Breathing Room  

Peter Davison

As I Live and Breathe and Have My Being

Long since pulled down, this house
       breathes in memory
              as redolent of event as dirty

laundry, releasing every odor
       the dwellers inhaled or gave off:
              the smells! Soaps in bathroom

sunk or laundry tub, cooling
       grape syrup dripping through doubled cheesecloth
              to settle into jelly, the candied breath

of my young sister nodding half
       out of sleep, the arousal of
              my parents waking and turning

toward one another, Beatrice Tafoya,
       not yet washed, in her maid's bedroom
              downstairs behind the kitchen, the

tang of stale cigarette butts in last
       night's ashtray, the sour vapor
              of undrained glasses of whiskey.

Seven bodies breathed in that house, and I,
       boy of ten, sleeping half in
              half out on a sleeping porch, woke

to the snore and reek of all that
       breathing, and quickly stole down the stairs
              to mount my bicycle and hiss away
              into uncomplicated daylight.

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