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Breath & Shadow

Summer 2019 - Vol. 16, Issue 3

"Grand Mal" and "Mandala"

written by




When you can't stand

your life one second 

longer, this is what 

you must do:


Get out of bed.

Put on clean underwear.

Put on that dress with

The green buttons and 

stripes of blue.

Look out at the morning

With its expectant face

and withered leaves.

Set your feet down 

on the carpet. It

doesn't matter if the

carpet is frayed yellow,

Just find the patch

of sun on it where

you would lay if

you were a cat and

draw a circle around it.


This is your

mandala for the day.

Study it.



"Grand Mal"





For one second before I seize

I can feel it approach

like a hawk encircling its prey

with one exacting purpose.

At the same time

I am overtaken by an animal terror

for my body knows of what's to come.

The hawk, with skillful acuity 

dives in for the kill 

and as I leave my body,

forced out by fright, 

it grabs me with its talons,

attacks me with its beak 

and strips me of muscle, thought,

bone, fur, awareness.



A few minutes later I return

to my shaking animal body

discarded by the hawk

rejected by death

and knowing only terror.

Restless and raw,

groundless and homeless, 

pieces of fur and bone

lie scattered amongst fragmented thoughts.





bit by bit,

piece by piece,

every muscle spent 

every neuron used up, 

I put myself back together:

tendon to bone to flesh

to thought to awareness,

memory by memory,

I begin to recognize

who this self is.

I tremble and cry

at once overcome

with the horror and wonder 

that is life.

Maluma, 64 years old, lives in Northern California with her partner of twenty-five years and three cats. She also lives with seizure disorder, anxiety and sleep disorder. She has self-published two poetry books: Welcome and My Wild Embrace. Visit her blog on Spirituality and dealing with chronic illness.

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