Ascend the rungs of your ribcage,
God instructed us when we first learned
to breathe.

I try to climb slowly as panic gathers
but my breath snags on that rib
of his.

I don’t believe I’ll ever reach
my collarbones.

Do you think of leaving?
he murmurs, holding me on his lap, his lips
warm along my jaw. I say nothing, shake
my head no. Where on earth would
I go?

At night while he sleeps beside me, mouth open,
I imagine removing that slender bone
beneath my breast, boring holes
at either end,

five more down one side,
putting it to my lips and walking out
past hedges, briar roses,
and the last tangle
of wisteria.

Not even God could name
this new sound,

the melody of lungs filling and falling,
only my own ribs around them.

Carole Greenfield is a writer and teacher living in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in Red Dancefloor, Gulf Stream Magazine, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Women’s Words: Resolution.

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