'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.
Editor: Emma McCleary
I met Helen Lehndorf on the internet. She was on Flickr, I liked her photos, she liked my blog, I liked her blog – it was all very 2008. Ignoring the first rule of meeting people from the internet (aka potential serial killers) in real life, I happily trotted around to Helen’s back yard where we ate chocolate cupcakes on a rug in the sun. We’ve been firm friends ever since.
Therefore, when it came to my Tuesday Poem editorship I knew I wanted a poem by Helen. I’m not very objective – I think everything she writes is fantastic and it thrills me no end that she’ll soon have her own book of poems. The Comforter is being published by Seraph Press later this year.
I asked Helen to send me three poems to choose from and this was my standout favourite. I always have a weakness for death references and I love the language and the imagery. For me this poem is strong, cheeky and relatable (and that last line sounds like a bad wine review).
I’m not a poet – I get to do this because I’m the Web Editor at Booksellers NZ and happen to like poetry, so we contribute to the Tuesday Poem every week. I’m really keen to hear what others – readers and poets - think too.
When you've read Helen's poem, try the other Tuesday Poems which pop up every week in the sidebar, including the Booksellers' Tuesday Poem.
This week's editor, Emma McCleary, is not only Web Editor at Booksellers New Zealand, she also blogs about her life in Featherston, runs her craft empire Emma Makes and is a printmaker.