Breathing In Breathing Out by Colin Pink
I have switched off the coffee machine.
I know that I have done that.
I can see my arm, my hand, the switch.
I know I have done it.
But I wonder.
Later I wonder: did I switch off the coffee machine?
I might have to go back and check. I might have to look. Look again.
And again look.
See if it is off. Switched off. As it should be. When not in use.
But then I’ll have to use it.
I’ll have to switch it on again. To use it.
My arm will stretch out, my hand reach to the switch, and with my finger
I’ll flick the switch. It will be on, again.
Again; later; I’ll have to switch it off, again. When its job is done.
When I no longer have need of it.
That’s the way it goes. That is what we do. When we no longer have
need of things.
I wish I no longer had need of things. It is the things that trap us; ensnare us.
We are caught in their grip as much as they in ours. We are locked together;
like wrestlers, struggling. Until we no longer have need of one another.
Until we no longer have needs. Then it will be over.
The struggle will be over. Over again.
But will it? Might it not start up again?
Might not the struggle start again, again? All over again.
All, all over again. And then it will have to be, over – again.
I feel I’m waiting.
For it all to be over – again.
I feel I’ve been here before. Do you know what I mean?
That feeling of having been there before. I don’t know exactly what it is,
what causes it; I can’t describe it. But I can feel it.
And I’m scared. Have I really been here before? Here? Here before.
Is it really happening all over again? Is it not over, not finally over again
It is hard to bear. This feeling of having been . . . having been . . . here . . .
before. And waiting. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
We spend too much time waiting. I spend too much time waiting.
Waiting for the coffee machine to boil. To gurgle, and make . . . the coffee.
I’ll have to check again. Check again and make sure it has stopped.
You can’t be too careful. Can you?
I forgot to take my medication this morning. At least, I think I forgot to take it.
But I might have forgotten that I took it. In which case . . . I did take it . . . but I
don’t know I took it. It’s difficult to be sure.
But it doesn’t matter. I tell myself it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Really.
When all is said and done. When all is done. It doesn’t matter.
In the end.
Such promising words.
They hold out hope. In the end.
I could do anything, in the end. Be anything, in the end. It’s what we’re
waiting for – in the end.
But I wonder.
I tell myself it doesn’t matter, but does it?
It’s hard to say.
I could do a lot of things.
But I don’t.
That’s what I’m good at. Waiting.
But I still wonder.
I can’t stop wondering. I wonder if I should not do something. If the waiting
would end sooner . . . if I did something.
But there are so many things. Things to do.
And how to choose. That’s always the problem. How to choose.
If I didn’t have to choose I could do it. I’m sure I could do it. But choosing.
Choosing is different.
I think maybe I’ll leave this place. Maybe I’ll go out.
I could go out. If I wanted to.
You needn’t think I can’t go out. If I want to.
But it’s dangerous out there. Anything could happen. Anything at all. You
could be walking along and BAM!, anything could happen. It’s dangerous.
I’ll think about it.
Waiting is what I’m good at.
Waiting isn’t all bad. Not all the time.
Things go through your mind; when you’re, waiting.
When you’re waiting you look like you’re doing nothing. It looks like nothing is
But in your mind everything is buzzing. The mind is full of energy, darting this
way and that. Thoughts tumbling about like children at playtime. It gets quite
exhausting. Doing, nothing.
While I’m waiting I look from my window.
I look from my window and I see them moving about.
I call them Other People. I assume they are the same as me; so I call them
But I don’t know. Not really. They could be automatons. They could be mere
clockwork dolls. Clever machines. Put there to deceive me. Put there
to make me think I am surrounded by Other People. When all the time, all the
time, I’m completely alone. Totally alone, in the universe. Just me;
and no one else. Solitary. Waiting. Until the time is up. Until it all ends,
again. In order to start, again.
I don’t know.
I might be wrong.
They look like Other People. They act like Other People.
Other People I don’t know.
They could be thinking the same about me. They could be looking up at the
window and see me and seeing me looking out at them and they could be
thinking: I bet that’s a clever automaton, put there to fool me.
There’s really nobody at the window. Nobody at all. Just a doll.
Just a doll.
It could be true.
For all I know.
Sometimes I feel like an automaton.
I could be one, for all I know.
Does it matter if I’m an automaton who thinks she’s a woman; or a woman
who thinks she’s an automaton?
If I look hard I can see a lot of things. But not me.
I can’t see me. Not the way the man looking up at the window sees me.
I’m too busy seeing to see me.
If I look in the mirror I think I see me. But I don’t; not really. I see
the mirror me, not the real me; not the me you see. We only see
a shadow of ourselves.
When I died. The first time. I thought that was it. I thought that was an end
I thought: I’m glad that’s over.
But I was wrong. It wasn’t over. I came back.
I keep coming back. I can’t seem to stay away. I can’t seem to get out of it.
This repetition; all this . . . repetition.
I’ve lost track of how many times now. Of how long I’ve been waiting.
Waiting. Looking. Thinking. Doubting. Dying.
I couldn’t tell you. I honestly couldn’t tell you. Even if you were interested.
Even if remembering was the very thing which would stop
the endless repetition.
It must be a long time.
It feels like a long time.
But perhaps it’s not.
You no doubt think it’s easy; dying. You just breathe in, you breathe out,
and you don’t breathe in again.
As simple as that.
I thought it was as simple as that.
And perhaps it is, for some people. But not for me.
I keep coming back.
I can’t stay away.
I come back. I wait. No matter how long. I wait.
Waiting for the waiting to be over. All to be over – again.
In the meantime I’ll just sit here. Sit here and breathe; breathe in and out.
Colin Pink is a playwright, poet and art historian. His plays have been performed in London, New York City and Berlin. His short film Touch won many international film awards. Acrobats of Sound, a collection of his poems was published in 2016. His poems have been published in a wide range of literary magazines such as Poetry Ireland Review; Poetry News; The SHOp; Poetry Salzburg Review; Acumen; South Bank Poetry and on-line at Ink Sweat and Tears and The High Window.