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Image by Caroline Forbes

Article of Faith

Et tu, Brute.
Brutus, even you.
Don't tell me it's not true,
the college city urban myth
that every breath you or I or anybody takes
contains a single molecule of air
expired with Caesar's dying words.
To me it is an article of faith
that my blood, yours and everyone's
is salt with two thousand year old oxygen
and, it follows, grains of every sneeze
or yawn or opera that there's ever been.
Steam from Stephenson's first Rocket ride,
songs that went to space and back,
each bark and war-cry, each World Cup whistle blast,
Spartacus shouting I'm Spartacus,
Kirk Douglas shouting I'm Spartacus -
particles of these are sherbet in our throats.
And this is where I make observance :
the front row seat in the stalls
for the opening speech of the final act,
at the foot of the soap-box and the busker's pitch
and in the market, where the man who sells fruit
is zesting the air with his citrus patter.
Here, my lungs are nets to catch
this glitterfall of exhalation
to keep with Caesar's sigh and Cassius's kiss.
This cloud of breath's a borrowing and lending
which links everyone, including me and you.
Do you believe it too ?
Breathe, if you do.


from Hannah and the Monk (Salt, 2008), © Julia Bird 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Julia Bird Reading from her poems

1Article of Faith

2Jim Fixed it For Me

3Time, Ladies, Please

4The World's Population Visits the Isle of Wight

5This Much is Almost Guaranteed

6Monoglutton

7White Horse

8Covent Garden

9Five Years Trying to Win the Flower Show Vegetable Animal Class

10As The Peacock

11Paper Stars

12From Crammond Beach

13Fire in a Crowded Theatre

14Your Grandfather Would Have Wanted You to Have This

15I Really Should Quit, But

16Opinion

17Magnetic Translation: poetry one one sex

18The Animals Went in Two by Two

19Next Door Girl

20Spiv

21Clip

22Hannah and the Monk

23Radio at Night

24What I Would Like is a Birdcage

25Dedication

26Souchong Sevenling

27Supersize Sevenling

28Orange Pips

29But They Wouldn't Want Us to Go Hungry

30Duet

31Pure Maths

32Breathing Pattern

33This Does Me for Snow

34The Preservation of Flowers

35To Be Shone on His Body

36Poppet

37Love Poem with Artemia Nyos

38Victoria Street Reel