Daily Breathing Exercises

Poem by Siobhan Dunlop

A poem about getting outside during lockdown and seeing more than the same four walls or same few streets around where you live, but instead the boundless sky and the sense of being not a big person in a small flat, but a small person in a big world.

Daily Breathing Exercises

To look up and not see boundaries, but open,

wide open—even when buildings dot your vision—

oh, that feeling of above, it's boundless and free,

and if you kept turning corners you could go on forever

seemingly, especially with money and a passport,

but even with legs and Google Maps installed

for when the streets all look identical and you've been

round and round and round for hours,

you feel unenclosed, unexpectedly small and fragile,

a baby deer taking too many steps into a clearing,

and to not be aware of all your sides at every moment

is such a novelty that it takes you afresh each time

you step outside.


This was inspired by trying to go outside regularly once that was allowed, and especially the feeling of looking up at the sky and seeing all the space. As a poet I wanted to use poetry to help me work through some of those thoughts rather than keeping my thoughts feeling cramped.