Iowa Writes


Lungs  play  their  part  like  other  vitals  do,
       diaphragm  drawing  deep, billions  of particles—
             The  atoms  of life—
       pulled  down the ladders  to the catacombs,
the  smallest  of which  are the  alveoli.

The chest is another  story  entirely,  seemingly  ignorant  of the insides'  best wishes;
       Tightening  relentlessly,  tongue  tied,  throat  narrowing,
             Drowning  without  the  sea.
             How dare you say . . . what exactly? I love you?
       Organs like these—unmoved  by pain, by grief—protest  profusely: fish out of water, but even they can breathe.

Walking  solves  this  conundrum:
       the steady step of your feet
             throws the switch of your  lungs  back to autopilot,
       like  when  kids hold their  breath and faint,
reawakening  to the  world and scolding  mothers.

The walking  takes you past some trees:
       a lively  bunch,  dressed in trembling  leaves;
             the  breeze rushing  through  the branches  brings,  what is that,  whispering?  no,
no, more  of a whooshing—
a thing  with  weight  to it,
       a weight  that if you let it will  fill  you;
             and no longer  will  you ponder
       what you have not and cannot have  said,
but how on earth it is possible for something  without  lungs  to be capable of such a breath.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Lucia Holte is a senior Environmental Studies major at Luther College in Decorah, IA. Her poems have been previously published in the Oneota Review, Luther's annual student published literary magazine.

This page was first displayed
on April 18, 2017

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