First Breath with Thistledown

Emily Tuszynska
| poetry


Hot, but with a breeze,

    and the breeze carries something

        faintly seen. Small glistenings


against the pines. It is the

    day’s zenith, and the summer’s.

        A goldfinch sways on a thistle


in a fold of field.

    He sows the slow

        currents of air and the seed


floats down to where we are.

    Our last child has been set

        loose from me. She drifts,


content in her swinging seat,

    her hands rowing through

        leaf shadow. Just weeks ago


she arrived—borne along

    like all of us, sailing

        her little craft of breath


and bone into this restless,

    airy realm. Her first night

        I listened as she learned


to breathe, unsteady

    rhythm of inhale

        and exhale interspersed


with squeaks and snuffles,

    her palm's-width chest

        first pistoning, then barely


stirring under my light hand.

    One moment she is a solid,

        fierce mass, radiant


with her own, internal heat,

    and the next she is

        light as air, asleep


in a loose curl on my chest,

    rising and falling

        on each breath.


Floating, turning, gone.

    Thistledown quivers

        over the gully, falters


over Queen Anne’s lace.

    Rising, it disappears against

        the bright sky and then


reappears, eddying at the far side

    of the field. Far, farther—

        almost too far to be seen.

Emily Tuszynska has recent work in Literary MamaPoetry NorthwestThe Southern Review, and Water-Stone Review. She lives with her husband, three children, and assorted pets in Fairfax, VA.