You’ve been out for a couple of seconds
You are a slimy drip, you are still.
Someone then smacks your back
You cry and let your lungs fill.
Your first punishment in this world
First life-lesson to be instilled—
    “Don’t forget to breathe”

The city you chose to grow up in
Is obscured in smog-like stuff.
You play around but suffocate
When the air is not enough.
The corticosteroids will save you—
You hear that inhaler puff,
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

You’ve brought on stage your nervous self
Through your songs you emote.
You navigate the highs and lows
Then hold indefinitely a note;
Claps and cheers intensify
As the voice escapes your throat,
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

A being of beauty catches your eyes.
Your desire, for yours to keep.
A needle skipping over gramophone groves
Your heartbeat chooses to skip.
Jaws open wide, commotions drown
You sense the being speak,
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

You may choose to detach yourself
For the You you’d wish to find.
And learn the ins and exhalations
And the rituals to unwind.
You have mastered all the patterns
But then your master reminds, 
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Dusty chalks pollute the cracks,
You hang on with your fingers.
Slam your A-game against the cliff
And challenge Nature to bring hers.
Her stack of rocks stacked against you,
In the breeze you hear her whisper,
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Men had to fish your body—
Been two hours that you slipped.
No amount of pressure on your chest
Or forced air through your lips
Will make you hear or understand
The words your loved one weeps,
    “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Notes: I wrote this poem quite rapidly—over a period of three days. The idea of what could take one's breath away kept playing in my mind. —S.B. (18.07.2020)