Martha Christina

Breathing. Holding.



It wasn’t as though

he’d never held a woman.

He said he’d dated girls

in high school and college,

even been married.

Briefly. When we put

our arms around each other,

it doesn’t feel queer, he joked,

his laugh so like my husband’s

before Iraq.


I was in my third

trimester, so we stood

a little off-kilter, his

hands touching across

my back, my head resting

against his collarbone.


We held each other

for three breaths,

breathing consciously,

holding consciously.

It was an exercise

designed to improve us,

to improve our lives,

and I welcomed any

thing that would do that.


When the workshop

leader said, okay,

stop, we did. We

processed with the others,

then returned to our separate lives:

mine to wait for my husband

and our baby. His? I didn’t ask.



He was clerking at the bookstore,

filling in for the owner.

He stepped around the counter,      

opened his arms. He didn’t ask

about my lost baby, my lost husband.

Breathe, he reminded me,

and I held on.

Martha Christina has published in The Bryant Literary Review, Common Ground Review, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag, The Orange Room Review, and most recently in Red Eft Review. She is the author of Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and the forthcoming Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). She lives in Bristol, RI.



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