Learning
Sitting in my father's lap, leaning back into his stomach and chest. He was reading to me. I could feel against my slight frame borne on the long, deep rise and fall of his breathing and, at the time, it seemed important that I should match it with my own shallow breaths. The room was quiet, and there seemed nothing else in the world than the sound of my father's voice, the words on the page, the art of his reading, and the rise and fall of our breathing, my child's lungs straining as I tried to inhale longer, exhale longer, to match him. Eventually he said, "Is there something wrong with your breathing, son"?

Earlier, on holiday in Devon, the sea was utterly calm and I walked out further and further until the water lapped about my neck. The swell raised the water only by an inch or so about me, and I felt safe and wonderfully cool. It was novel to see the expanse of the ocean like that, shining in the sun, so close to the level of the eye. I could feel the closeness of the cold water in my breath. But finally a larger wave came along and my head was momentarily plunged under the surface, my mouth and nose filled with salt water. Spluttering, I ran as fast as the water would allow back to my parents on the beach. "You've just learned to swim underwater", they said.

Sights and trigger, sights and trigger is all you have to think about. You hold your breath. You must try to match the stillness of the machine. In the time it takes to make the shot the pressure builds up in your chest and throat, but you must concentrate only on sights and trigger until the shot makes itself.

Much later, lying against my lover, she barely visible, our bodies in contact over our entire lengths, my belly in the small of her back, waking, I realize that without trying the rhythm of our breathing is perfectly matched.