‘Now, lift the heart’ my yoga teacher always says.
I envision my heart levitating outside my body,
at eye level. Its heavy pulsing, a slight squelch
as I cup my hands under it, and guide it upwards,
trying not to recoil from the very meat of it, the
shudder of it as the aorta gapes air like a tiny mouth.
My yoga teacher tells us to imagine we have strings
attached to the tops of our heads. ‘Imagine I am pulling
your string’, she says. I imagine I am a flabby puppet
and she is trying to get a taut line so she can make me
jump and dance. She mimics string-pulling and I yank myself taller.
My yoga teacher says ‘You are a baby, you are a flower,
you are stirring a giant pot.’ I am a woman in a yoga studio
trying to remember I have a body. She says
‘Where thought goes, energy flows’.
She is dying of cancer. Where does that leave us?
Maybe we will donate her to science.
Science will play her body like an instrument, strumming her veins, blowing air between dermis and muscle. They will lift her heart,
gently, with surgical tools which look like two giant spoons.
But look at that, she is not dead yet. She is right here, in triangle pose. My thoughts go west, go wayward. My thoughts are cul-de-sacs. Dead ends. I am a sick baby, a cut flower. I am not safe around a visual metaphor.
by Helen Lehndorf, used with the permission of the poet.
Helen’s first book The Comforter will be published late 2011 by Seraph Press.
This week Emma McCleary from Booksellers NZ is the Editor of the Tuesday Poem programme – find out why she picked this poem.