The Posture of Love

The Posture of Love

by, Heather Keyser

In a classroom 

made of a tent 

reminiscent of revivals, 

our teacher asked, 

“Who here has been 

saved 

by books?”

We raised our hands.

*            *            *

I am bookish.

True enough.

I lean forward

as I trip

and

clop

along,

holding

a book to my chest

and

folding myself lightly

over the clipped pages,

hunching

gracefully,

which seems like

an oxymoron—

to hunch gracefully—

but it’s not,

when you think

of what I’m holding.

It’s not quite a song —

the birds can’t hear it—

but it can make your cheeks flush

and your breath quicken,

And/or it can make you

go and call your mother

on the telephone.

And/or it can bring you up

against

regret,

making you feel as if

your body’s organs

are stinging each other.

But a book doesn’t impose—

it is silent and waiting,

and you can dip

into its woodsy pages

at will, and close them up and shelve

them when you need to,

and can you really say that about

a song?

My whole long body curves

around this dry treasure like a

subtle “C,”

and my skirts

brush the dirt

as I traipse forward,

allowing my heart—

beating against this hard

bound book—

to lead me

where it will,

even

into the sky

if it wants.

Upside Down in the Moonlight

(Writer’s Camp, at Esalen institute in Big Sur, CA)

Last night in the moonlight I practiced doing handstands against a cypress tree on the lawn in front of Esalen.  The chairs facing the ocean were empty, and I listened:  no voices murmuring in the ocean’s rush.  I bent from the waist and pressed my hands down on the rise of coarse grass a foot from the base of the tree, and with the momentum of the forward movement, I kicked my feet up into the air.  My legs scissored and then thumped the ground, and as I stood up, I felt sap on my right palm.  I tried again and again, getting closer to upright, until my heels bumped the bark of the tree.  I pushed my hands into the ground, straightening my elbows and thighs and arching my back as I looked at the dirt, my skeleton upside down.

upside down in the moonlight