This is a spoken word piece I wrote in 2004. I used to smoke cigarettes, too, compounding my asthmatic inability to hike up mountains at anything other than a snail’s pace. The beginnings of this poem were written on a slow and steady crawl up Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge, which is an incredible, if not slightly strenuous, hike, especially in the spring when you will see many different types and colors of flowers all blooming together. It was here, too, that I saw my first orchid blooming in the wild (the Fairy Slipper).



My shortness of breath
is a blessing in disguise –
you see, I climb hills slowly.
I take time to breathe.

I make time for the
carbon dioxide and
oxygen exchange.

I take it in.
I put out.

My shortness of breath
makes me weak in the knees.

It’s my shortness of breath
that makes me talk to the trees –
I stop, send down roots
and bow to the ground
I commune with the flowers,
I hear every sound.

My shortness of breath
means I count each one
make them measured and slow –
I breathe from my depths
I fill to my depths –

face to face with a beautiful bloom
we share a moment of

shared breath and the
synergistic cycle of life

my shortness of breath
is a focus of sense
an understanding of presence

i move slowly so that i can

prolong this

my shortness of breath
is not a disease
it’s a call to listen
to the wisdom of leaves:

in my shortness of breath
my heart pounds in my chest
and I’m very, very aware
that it’s there.

© Dori Mondon 2004

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