Monday, April 16, 2012


Sometime in the latter half of 2011, my friend Odette and I started going to Candlelight Yoga. The class is from 8-9pm, so work couldn't be an excuse, and it kept us from eating or drinking too much on any given evening. (You have to behave before yoga, and afterwards, what's the point of indulging when you've just zenfully burned calories?)

We were under the impression that it would be a soothing end to our days, one hour of breathing in candlelight and exhaling our day.


It's power yoga, people. It is one very, very intense hour, set to *fabulous* rock music (no water trickling over stones for this group), led by the amazing and talented Alexis.

It kicks. your. ass. In the dark, so no one sees how much you're sweating, panting, releasing. And you love it, because you still get to spend an hour breathing in candelight, exhaling your day.

The first class I went to was the first time I'd ever done pigeon pose. It is hard. We hold each side for enough time that you feel toxins leave your body but not so long that we get stiff. I usually need help getting my hips aligned with my feet, the earth, any sense of graceful balance.

So here Odette and I are, bent in new ways, and I just start sobbing.

The below poem was originally titled "Yoga." I have renamed it "pigeon pose." It is a decade old today.


pigeon pose

a full body experience
our instructor reminded me
of someone he would have liked
small frame, perky breasts,
I-dont-care hair
another member of the class had his hair
except in gray

as soon as I started sweating
I could smell last nights boy
in my skin
I could smell him waking me up
his fingers on my bare skin
lips against breasts against clitoral moisture

then, during stretches that were
contortionistically painful
I thought of the ways
you manipulated my body
bringing my arms forward,
refusing to listen to me breathe
as you inhaled my soul
exhaled your lies
spread my legs at ninety degree angles
and bent yourself over

I almost had to leave the room
during the last moments
"Feel all the stress and tension
slide out of your feet
out of the palms of your hands"

here I am, lying in so many memories
of love, of hate, of hurt
here I am, arms outstretched
my back curled similarly
to the way it straightened
under you

the friend Im taking classes with
on our way back to campus
windows down, sunshine and pollen flooding us:
"Gosh, you know, that relaxation part at the end just made me want to pray."

Yep. Me too.

April 16, 2002


Whenever someone invites me to some event, personal or professional, my reply, regardless of acceptance or decline, is "Thank you for including me."

I think it's a nice way for people to know that I genuinely care that they value my expertise or intelligence, my ability to bring the fun, my cooking skills, whatever. I'm glad to feel included in their panel discussion, their lives, their love.


One day, I won't feel
Like our plans have been usurped:
I'll feel included.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Easter service at the church I grew up in is, I'm sure, a majestic affair. However, we've attended the sunrise service for as long as I can remember.

The steeple at St. James church is square, and sunrise service is held atop it. Narrow, steep stairs built possibly two centuries ago lead the way, along with a space one must crawl through (have you crawled recently? it's inelegant)... winding up through stained glass, past the bell tower, onto the very top of the steeple: the highest up I've ever been in my hometown.

You wear jeans, and usually sweatshirts, because somehow it's always a cold Easter morning. I didn't even bother with makeup or contact lenses today, which is the opposite of the nearly two-hour long beautification process I undertook at Christmas.

Facing east, then south (toward the Presbyterian church); then west (to the river, which this morning still had a bright moon over it); then north (toward City Hall); then east again for the final song, which always is sung just as the sun crests over the horizon. I don't know how they always get the timing perfectly. This morning, the keyboard wasn't working, so we sang four hymns a cappella. Blessedly, the choir master was in attendance.


the cadences of my prayers were formed at this church
where I pause, mid-sentence, even if there's not a comma
or when I skip over commas

as well as the dialect of my prayers
which often, out of nowhere, have an eastern Carolina accent
even when I am in New Orleans
especially so

a boy I went to kindergarten through 11th grade
wasn't there
but his sister, who is my brother's age, was
and his mother and father

on the drive back to the house
after our brief 25-minute service
my mother mentioned that his mother had cancer
or has cancer
my brother and I asked after the correct verb tense
but my mother didn't know.

I still feel too young for our parents to be dying.
I think a lot of it is that I still have three of four grandparents
and my one deceased grandfather
did not pass until my senior year of college

this church taught me how to worship
I have since learned how to pray
and will keep her in my thoughts
and hope she finds a past verb tense
while living

Saturday, April 7, 2012


For 90 minutes
a stranger touched me
kneading out my knots and tightnesses
pressure points

I told her about
diet, exercise, meditation

She moved deeply into my exhales
releasing on my inhales
tuned to what I could absorb as pain or heat
and what I needed to release as excess

She told me that
when she tries to focus
or to clear her mind
or to feel stable
she focuses on how her feet feel
and gathers energy from the earth

When she feels stress,
she tells herself, "Feel the earth, Beth. Feel the earth."

My feet are often in pain
because I am vain, and I love unreasonable shoes
or because the muscles in my arches cramp when I
move side to side (jumping jacks)
stand too long with my feet apart (triangle pose)
stand too long on one foot (tree pose)

Even though I was lying down
at that moment

I commanded my feet to
feel the earth:

feel that you have been bare for days
holding up a body that hasn't worn undergarments since you arrived
feel only the rubber of flipflops
the metal of a golf cart pedal

or sand

wet, hard sand
that absorbs the ocean's salt, cold, imperceptible lifeforms
and dry, dusty sand
warm from the sun, full of shells

walking across these earths
I have gathered energy
returned to salinity and balance
grounded myself

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Today, Maundy Thursday, is one of my favorite days of the religious calendar. Jesus is/becomes so human in his final hours, and, unlike the making of miracles or the damn near illogical parables, I can empathize with him. He is sad, scared, sure.

My grandmother and I went to Village Chapel of Bald Head Island for their service today, which was tenebrae.

We started with:

Celebrant: God is light, in whom there is no darkness at all.
People: Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
Celebrant: And this is the judgment that the light has come into the world.
People: And we loved darkness rather than light.

Then, John's account of The Passion was read, broken into 16 sections, extinguishing candles after each.

At the end of the service, we sat in darkness. (Well, we sat in the cloudiness of an impending thunderstorm, overlooking a marsh untouched by man.)

And I kept reading "And we loved darkness rather than light."

How many times in our lives do we choose darkness, whatever our darkness is, instead of our light? Do we love it? Crave it? Not know how to give it up, like our other Lenten sacrifice(s)?

And if we could learn to love light, how much better would we be, as individuals and as a group?


"Maundy" comes from the Latin "mundatum," which means "command." Jesus commands his disciples to love one another after he washes their feet. It is his final request of them.
I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.
Let us love light. Let us recognize each other's light. Let us love each other.