December 12, 2017

An unexpected Master who leaves us Better than he Found us. {Poem}

Student meets master:

Morning yoga. Rain fell overnight.
The air is cool and clean.
I practice on a gritty concrete slab.

In downward dog, I stare into water,
and there is Master Snail, showing me how it is done.

He does not try. He does not sweat. He merely is.
His small body has length beyond my comprehension.

He extends and allows, extends and allows,
while I, impatient as always, grip and clench and strive.

Master Snail is quiet in his practice.
He makes no noise, no fuss.
He eschews appearance, seeking only what is.

While I wobble and hurt, he glides on, carrying his shell with jaunty ease.
In Warrior pose, he finds snail pride, snail arrogance.

My teacher spoke of steadiness.
“Find steadiness in the pose.” Here it is.
Master Snail does not try, he is.

Departing, he languidly stretches again
As if to say, “Do this.”

I try and fail again, but am better for meeting Master Snail.
His modesty has left a mark.

He disappears into grass.
I practice on, searching for my inner snail.


Author: David Lander
Image: Pixabay
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Linda Lewis Dec 12, 2017 2:40pm

I love this poem's theme of learning from another being. Humans have so much to learn about just being, just being a human being, and how to unlearn being a human-doing. A dog doesn't think in terms of success or failure, so the poet might also consider dropping that judgement while doing that downwar yoga pose.

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David Lander

David Lander has previously published in The Australian, The Age, Overland, Tirra Lirra and Australian Poetry. He has had careers in education and theater. He now lives with his partner in Hobart, Tasmania.