opening slowly

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First Yoga Lesson
By Mary Oliver

“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
all together.”

I couldn’t even touch my toes.
“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.

Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.

I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond
opening slowly, and very slowly rising—
that I could do.

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