TAI CHI: FOUR LESSONS

LESSON  ONE

Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane
in this alley in the center of town,
embarrassed, in heavy shoes
I clunk and stomp among the stones.

The White Crane Spreads Out its Wing.
The teacher is elegant in blue silk and red slippers.
I am stupid in my rolled-up jeans.

I try to Brush away the thick distractions
around my Knee; my hands tangle,
feet stumble
until I settle down to Play the Lute.

LESSON TWO

Randomly flailing, adjusting my toes,
I Drive the Monkey a little bit Away,
chatter a little less.
When I
Grasp the Bird’s Tail
and stroke her glossy feathers
almost I can believe that she will
let me settle on her back;
almost I can feel the lightness of her bones.

LESSON THREE

Oh, how I can Wave my Hands
Like Clouds, all day!

But now I must Pat High on the Horse’s Back
before the battle begins–

Kick with Right Foot,

Grab Opponent’s Ears with Both Fists,

Kick with Left Foot–  
still so much to fend away.
Will I never settle down,
become a sturdy
Golden Rooster
who Stands, trimphant, on One Leg?

LESSON FOUR

Western lady moves too fast,
tries to remember what’s next.
But today she doesn’t care
if people walking past the alley stop
to smile at Fair Lady Working Shuttles,

Looking for Needle at the Sea Bottom.
These things require attention.

As I Shunt with Both Hands Fanning,
a frail barrier forms between my body
and the noise of traffic and machines.

Deflecting Downward, Parrying and Punching,
I imagine it is possible to push the unneeded aside.
I am
Acting to Close a Door wide open too long.

Crossing the Hands, I assume
Closing Position,
so much like beginning again.

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