MRI x2

“Breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath,

breathe normally,”

a recorded voice instructs,


as other sounds pierce my heart,

I feel entombed

staring at that small black hole

as I comply,

“breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath

breathe normally,”

fifteen hundred seconds more –

I feel dizzy;

the black hole begins to blur,

focus fights back,

“breath in, breath out, hold your breath,

breath normally”

as sirens and rumbles quake

that voice repeats

through headphones that don’t mask blasts;

or turbulence;

detonated dissonance;

radio waves

reverberate through heart valves,

“breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath,

and then there is a long wait

until he tells me

to once more breathe normally,

a pause each time,

the weight on my weakened chest

makes me cough, wheeze

shifting carbon ratios,


remembering the blackouts

last MRI

when I forgot how to breathe

for a second,

and then one more

counting the rhythm of breath

to prevent lack,

the recurrence came later,

pushing buttons

on the torn parts of my brain,

but that was then;

a previous MRI

three weeks ago

that triggered the spasming

and syncope;

those blips of thirty minutes,

but only then

“breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath,

breathe normally”

a set motif

heart and breath deviate from,

sight holding on,

I stare into the black hole

to calibrate,

to stop myself passing out;

never again,

last time I was a puppet;

MRI sounds’

involuntary conduction

making limbs twitch

as it touched the broken parts

of brain and nerves,

this time it isn’t the same,

“breathe in, breath out, hold your breath,”

waves purl the core

“breath normally”

but it is hard,

the black hole blurs its edges –


just six hundred seconds left,

pulse erratic

as breath oscillates airflow

noise continues,

my nerves and lungs stop speaking

to each other

for a meter,

they lose and regain rhythm,

ideas rotate,

the table moves back and forth

to the fan’s beat,

under the cacophony

I concentrate

my gaze on that small black hole,

then, light-headed

fall into an absent star,

that one still point

of my dazed world in motion;

merely a speck

on this setup’s arching wall

but I fall in

for an instant,

one mislaid beat,

“breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath”

hope’s tenacious,

nervous system dysfunction

raises questions,

tissue disorders ask more,

breathe in, breathe out;

could this scan help answer them?

… hold your breath.


Antonia Sara Zenkevitch