The instructor points out the weight-bearing joints of my body
on the map of his body: hips, knees, ankles and I am thinking of how we sail
our dead on shoulders. Through the penultimate lap—
And how lugging a thing on shoulders gives weight
a whole different aspect. Think of Atlas
for eternity shouldering a big ball of heaven
as punishment— must forewarn us a little of
heaven’s heaviness.

The instructor now shows how to do hamstring curls
which will do my one bad knee good— I am gasping
for a stronger spine to spread even
the weight of my living. I need to turn my rigid arms
think olive branch, paper crane, the pit of my stomach
to freshwater lagoon. I need to melt the iron of my veins—
forge bridges, steamships as I wait
for this body to buckle to perfection
I need to be light as plum petals, light as moonbeam
on the valley of your shoulders.


Vismai Rao lives in Delhi, India. More of her work is forthcoming in the Salamander Magazine.



Previous Page                                                                                                                      Next Page