"What Keeps us Still" from The Breathing Field. p. 32 illustration by Eric Dinyer
That darn pillow on the bed in the hotel room. I knew I should have tossed that oversized cloud on the floor and slept without one. Why don't we listen to our inner wisdom? That grandmother telling us what's best for us, nagging from the dark corner of our mind?
So, a knot entered the muscles below the back of my neck. A tightening. I did some yoga in the hotel room (I brought my yoga mat!) and again when I returned home.
We had left late afternoon, a dull gray sky overhead. Dusk fell quickly. Half way home, we were driving in the inky blue darkness. No starlight, no moon, above us only dark. Behind us only dark. To the front dark. Where was the road, anyway? It was like traveling along a dark ribbon, with a pale yellow stripe in the center. Like driving through the bottom of the ocean. I much expected to see an octopus slide across our headlights. Or, like driving through a mountain. Then, a troll might suddenly hang upside down from our windshield.
I just came back from lecturing. That knot came back. I need some poetry. So, I scanned my shelves and pulled out a small slim dark blue book I once bought in a bargain bin. The book is called The Breathing Field Meditations on Yoga. It is a collection of poems by Wyatt Townley with illustrations by Eric Dinyer.
It never fails when I trace my fingers along the spines of books; someone calls. Always the voice I need to hear.
There are 5 sections to this poem; these are the first 2. The poem is called
Having Spine by Wyatt Townley
A string of shells on the ocean floor
that mother and grandmother grew
in the dark, pushed from the depth
of the belly, wave by wave, into
a hardening world. The spine twists
behind a lectern. Tucks into a chair
in the back row. Shoved
against a lover, thirty-three stones
skip across a lake, looking for home.
Having spine tells us from them.
Keeps us from snaking around.
It's pure chameleon: water, fire,
earth, air. Feel it turn
into mermaid, hot air balloon,
flight of stairs, waterspout...
French windows swing
over the bay. The moon
streams in. A cat jumps out.