top of page

Breath → Mechanical Breath; Visiting Hours by Jennifer Cox

Breath → Mechanical Breath  



Walls move, I stay 

static, propped 

as yellow and white 

polyester gowns swim 

across floors, whispering, 



(Did I ask, Are we going

scuba diving? Are we taking

an ocean plunge, dressed 

in these plastic layers,

this oxygen tank



A room halts 

around us. Hands 

and needles grope for veins 

in the lights. The blinding crowd 

holds their breath. Who snatched 

mine? Who claimed it from my chest?



(Did I say, There is a coast

somewhere. Rolling boulders

into the sea, frothing waves,

hungry gulls flying

overhead, sound drowning out

each humble voice, ocean 

as far as forever


Visiting Hours


I know it is morning by the magpies:

one on the monitor, a second on the white curtain.


I'm grateful that they are only two, not one or three 

or even four, although I know this is no nursery rhyme.


“We’re here” they squawk.

“We’re here we’re here we’re here.”


I scribble with my hand. The larger one 

understands, brings a pen and paper to me.


They let you come, I write.

Avian heads tilting. “But if only!” they say.


Then how did you get in? I write.

“How did you?”


Come home?they ask. 

Not yet I write.


"But when? Tomorrow? Tonight?”

Not yet.


“But when? But when? But when?”

They squawk and flap.


Where are my opal earrings? 

Where are my gold rings? 


Hold my hand, I write.

They laugh. “What's in your mouth?” 


Tubes and wires I want to write, but

how could I explain to birds such a device?


My life I write. Their claws shuffle.

What do you bring?


The magpies laugh and squawk and 

laugh and squawk and flap. “Come home!” they call.


The little one swoops the pen from my hand

drops it on the ground.


“Goodbye!” they call, squawking all 

the way down the hall.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page