The edge of distress

Index fingers to thumbs, hands on the knees

we heave together in Kapalabhati.

I have come here often enough

it may be brewing coffee, shifting the car

to drive. At first my wingspan

was the measure of safety—

how far over my neighbor’s

sticky mat did my fingers spread

in Ardha Chandrasana? To touch a stranger

that way felt like a belt wrapped tight

around the thing meant to open me.

This expansive chest, expensive

chest. Nevermind the men I’ve taken in

my body I’ve known for less than a day.

I almost always drive

80 on 280. Teach alignment

to goals like buoys

in a future sea we’ll one day sail. Let’s go!

my mantra, we have to move.

How surprised I’ve been that to stay put

has become less relic

more passageway. Breathe in, 1, 2, 3,

out, 1, 2, 3. At first each movement flashed

like tableaux, there was no redress

for wrongs I couldn’t yet know. There

was no flow. The illusion of flow

and the edge of distress in each

new pose. Go vogue I’d thought

be rouge. We are the generation

of mindfulness, watching

how we watch, pilgrims to the

split screen and the end goal of

peace in the present moment.

We try to stop trying

and on lucky days we do.

When we reach out in

parivrtta parsvakonasana

I think of budgets and rights of way

I wait for it to be over, counting breaths

1, 2, 3. But when it is, I forget

the suffering for just long enough

to know I must do it again.

Elizabeth L