by Paula Brancato
2015 Booth Poetry Prize Winner, as selected by Ellen Bryant Voigt
apart from when I broke a balance beam with my
head, was in yoga class. The teacher
in her bow pose, switched on “Love
to love you, baby.” Right into the second
chakra it went, just above my pubic bone, when something
very much like my head, but lower, burst.
Only a month before, I had lost a baby I wanted
and a man I didn’t, one after the other.
In my bow pose, holding my ankles,
pelvis rocking on the mat, I started to cry.
I had no idea my body had baby memory.
A current ran through me, very like when my head
unexpectedly hit the beam and I found I was still
alive, or when years later, I held my mother as my grandmother
died, feeling through her body, my grandmother’s life in me.
In the yoga class, what I felt was distinctly the other
way around, a life that almost was but now would never be.
A part of me had died, and a smaller part of my mother
and an even smaller part of my mother’s mother and so on.