“as plum as the lips of a lover she has not yet met”
I learned my greatest lesson the moment I was born: there is darkness, there is light, and there is breathing. All of these are gifts. We tend to lose sight of this as we grow older, confusing light with darkness. Sometimes we even forget to breathe. When the inhales and exhales stumble and lose their natural rhythm, this is when we may turn to other, harmful ways of coping with darkness, such as alcohol, drugs and anorexia.
Yoga helps us go back to a time before language, a time when we were infants, breathing, moving our bodies and noticing details without judgment. Earth’s body is a lot like our bodies. She wears bruises, too—the constant buildup, wires connecting.
With yoga we stay young, but at the same time, we grow mindful and wise. We recognize darkness as a pain we do not yet understand. But if we take time to navigate, we can get back into that state where body and place are the same. If we don’t recognize the darkness inside, if we don’t treat this darkness with kindness and curiosity, how can we find compassion for the pain outside, in the land?
Healing is torturous, but it can also be wonderful. If we’re lucky, we feel beauty growing from pain. And when this happens, when the ache births something remarkable, that’s what I like to call recovery.
Here is a prose poem I wrote during my most recent travels. It’s about our bodies and movement. Beyond that, I will let the poem speak for itself.
when she turned twenty-four, the world punched her in the back. her spine, it turned as plum as the taos sunset, all heavy on the thin horizon. and as the plum settled, her muscles hardened, thickening as she walked west, as she slept on the rocky, cool earth of mississippi, texas, arizona.
her spine, it was the grand canyon, the gulf of mexico, empty and stinging with each step. the girl, she became the skeleton towns outside sweetwater, texas. she became the forest’s paths in the great divide, the automobile graveyards in santa rosa. in california, she twisted her body until she became the 101, the 405. she became the smooth waves and bare sky in malibu, the kids with bright hair on melrose.
as night wrapped angel city like a gift, a woman with a voice like water chanted om, and the girl became a warrior, a cobra. she became a dancer. and when the water-voice woman told her to let go, she did. and when the same woman asked her to thank the source of her strength, she did. and her bruised spine, it planted roots, grew branches as plum as the lips of a lover she has not yet met, but has felt in each crevice, in each open wound.
(she drives on the 101 and it will be the last time for a while and she feels sad but she knows earth is spinning like a piece of pottery, fast and wet, ready to take shape, and shape is forming, it’s forming fast, as the lover sweeps her partner’s shoulder, as the lone one moves like fire in the wind.)
Ashley Inguanta grew up in a world of wires and light, and at twenty-four years old, she is still growing. She is currently an MFA student at UCF and a Graduate Teaching Associate for two Introduction to Creative Writing classes. She has worked as a Creative Writing Instructor at Lakeside Alternative, a mental health facility. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Pindeldyboz, The Cypress Dome, and narrativeapproaches.com, and in November her poem “Dedication” will appear in All Things Girl. Find more of her stories on her blog.