Wednesday, 30 September 2009

gymnastics and poetry


There isn't anything that's not important.
Your toes must be pointed, knees locked, buttocks clenched to the edge of pain.
Ribs arch, torso elongates to an elegance impossible elsewhere.
Shoulders extended, you glare at your hands.
So much for the easy part, and truly, it is easy;
you need only get there and freeze the parts into place,
then a corner of your brain will keep them cold while you turn inward, to the challenge.
No one but another gymnast would guess that it lies in the pressure from ten whorled pads, in the hinge between hand and forearm.
Adjusting by microns, fingertip, wrist, you play as a child,
gravity the most beautiful of toys.
You could stay up forever,
the world inverted but in such perfect balance that coming down is like a small deaththe line breaks,
your feet touch the mat, your spine reclaims its ordinary curves;
you are dull and mortal as before.

Linda Sue Park
(first published in Atlanta Review, Spring/Summer 2000)

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