Yoga: Just Follow Instructions
Yoga is the blocking of mental modifications so that the seer re-identifies with the Self. – Sage Patanjali
Inhale chest arms up,
Don’t think about the phone call
arms down exhale, bend forward into ragdoll,
the tin plane you have to board,
drop down into plank, then downward dog,
your sister’s voice, the audible shake beneath her words
chaturanga into upward dog
your own fear, freezing you into statue when you hear the news
back to downward dog
until you force yourself to cling to this routine, to get moving
smooth glide into table, then dolphin pose
to kill time until you can get there, reminding yourself to breathe, to flow
then dolphin pushups, forward-back, forward-back, breathe!
to feel your own body struggling
until you are told slide back all the way into child’s pose
to feel something you can control
then back into table, then plank, then up
outside your emotions, you can do this
into warrior one
you are strong, you’ve always known
and warrior two
you get it from him, from dad,
then reverse warrior
who is now on blood thinners, still sleeping
wind-milling arms back down to plank,
after the stroke left him standing in the living room
and repeat on the other side, warrior one, warrior two
trying to check email with a tv remote.
you sweat, you push, cycling through,
Don’t think about how good or bad his waking might be.
then table, then stretch into frog pose. It hurts.
Think only about this simple muscle pain
“Try to relax into it,” the yogini says.
to avoid the other kind of suffering.
“I used to hold this for twenty minutes,” the yogini says.
You know you can’t hold it that long.
She says, “Come to seated, easy crossed legs.”
You feel opened up, elastic,
Inhale chest arms up, reach, lengthen,
yet more vulnerable than ever before
exhale arms down, hands together
knowing what may come next
right at heart’s center.
If only there were actual branches
and bushes blocking the way,
if only we could mean it
when we say, I don’t know how
I got here… I just remember a tornado,
ruby slippers… an oil can… then nothing…
But we do know the steps,
the order taken, the view along
the way: jet plane scraping
exclamation points in the sky,
the sunset, so sweetly pale-faced,
the shocked incessant buzz of phone wires,
heavy, magnetic, ominous in hindsight,
the entire panoramic movie set,
each detail now Technicolor,
vibrant with clandestine gestures.
Didn’t the curling skin of the birch
tell us to turn back before night?
Didn’t the stones pinch our feet
trying to warn, push us back,
frighten? Didn’t we hear
our mothers’ voices zing out
from childhood doorsteps like rods
trying to reel us back in?
But something beckoned harder
despite the barrage of omens.
Didn’t it. A cloud, a rainbow,
a stunning field of poppies.
That’s why we choose this path,
this compelling escape.
So what can we do with
the choice now that it’s made,
like rust breaking us down
slowing us until we’re stuck
still in this frozen landscape.
And after the witch melts,
when we’re out of the woods
and out of the night,
are there ever enough heel clicks
to part the thick green curtains
we’ve been hiding behind?
About the poet:
Monique Gagnon German is a graduate of Northeastern and Northern Arizona Universities. She is a wife, mother, former Technical Writer for a laser manufacturer in San Diego, CA. Currently, Monique works as a Content Developer and document QA Specialist for a small Veteran owned company in TX while continuing to write poetry and stories in CO. Her poems have appeared in over 30 journals/anthologies including: Rosebud, California Quarterly, Tampa Review, Off the Coast, and, The Wayfarer. Her micro-flash, flash, and short stories have been featured in: Kalliope, A Journal of Women’s Literature & Art, The MacGuffin, and Adelaide Literary Review. In October 2017, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry, so she is actively crossing her fingers as you read this. Website for Monique: http://www.moniquegagnongerman-com.webs.com/