Ancestral Memory/Breath

By Paloma Henriques

MS Marine Policy Student
School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine


sitting on the seashore 

of my mind’s edge

wondering at paranoia, fear, joy, sadness, contentment

and all the myriad waves 

lapping against the coarse sand of my synapses

thoughts, like seals, wriggle 

their blubbery shapes into my consciousness

marking a trail through my memory

the space between stimulus and response

seals barking, you have a choice

seals beckoning me closer and closer 

toward freedom

their shiny fur, wet and dark 

eyes black and whiskers erect

the bones in their fins remind you of fingers

and we remember

deep in the ancestral memory of our DNA

when we wriggled out of the salty womb

and climbed into the trees

trading buoyancy for gravity

kelp for the forest canopy

and with our bridged noses 

we dive back into our memory 

returning to our mother

always to be born again

with the next breath

inhaling the chemical products of millennia of forests and oceans

a thin layer of gas 

surrounding a little sphere

afloat in a big universe

remembering where the next breath comes from

only if first we remember we’re breathing