Pat Phillips West
Excerpt from KotaPress Poetry Anthology Volume 3, 2003


Holidays suck the breath out of you—
leave you unable to swallow food at birthdays
drink an anniversary toast, or celebrate the moment—
you yearn for a beer and hot dog at the ball park
TV and popcorn, lost wonders of the every day.
Unrelenting—a whiff of cologne reminds
you of the scent tucked in the closet undelivered.
Someone’s chatter about a trip revives
unwelcome memories—
plans interrupted excursions un-taken.
Reality knocks—each morning
you hesitate delay your departure.
Stand at the door as if
you had a choice not to open it.
A choice not to let reality in.
Vivid non-stop memories play like old movies—
a sunshine-filled day at the beach. You lie
on the blanket his breath against your ear—
a hike up the cliff his hand grasps yours
helps you up holds you solid-safe.
In private where no one hears
you scream why
allow the wild person within
to rant demand answers—
Vulnerable you stand naked before the mirror
look for signs of life. Lean forward
look for his eyes covering your skin.
That was then—
now empty eyes stare back at you.
Impossible—you think, shake your head
force yourself to comprehend
the fact—no longer
can you say
"Remember when?"
Not a tragedy—your aunt’s words
her attempt to help.
Still you wrestle to grasp
her theory—a tragedy would be
never to have had him.

Go—you remind yourself—go on
even when your lungs feel
sucked empty of air
from the effort of surviving.
Don’t forget to breathe.

Inhale- Exhale accepted for publication in All Things Girl, August 2002
Again published in Poetictricity, spring 2002; KotaPress, June 2002


Author Bio
Pat Phillips West is a former hospital administrator who lives and writes in northern Nevada. Besides poetry she creates and distributes a unique card line, In Other Words, for those times when, "Get well quick," just isn’t enough, or you don’t know what to say. Her work has appeared in an anthology, Labyrinth: Poems and Prose, as well as FZQ Poetry, Poetictricity, KotaPress, and All Things Girl.