My mentor is the weighty, wheezing breath at the top of a steep hill
on days when I already know I’m late for first period.
It's the carbon dioxide my lungs won’t let out
in a sharpie-smeared bathroom stall
the four pm panic attack
remembering to exhale after the rejection,
Every neglected breath teaches me to appreciate the air,
relish the flavor of words.
Every strain for oxygen improves my lung capacity.