Yoga by Ally Malinenko

I started yoga
which feels like a terribly
white girl thing to say

probably because it is a terribly white
girl thing to say
and when I walk there with my stupid
yoga pants and my stupid mat
I feel so horribly white.

Even worse I live in Brooklyn.
So now I’m a white girl in yoga pants
in Brooklyn which could honestly
make me the subject of hate poems.

But I started yoga because
I thought it might help
after all the treatment.
I wanted to get in shape.
That’s what I told myself
but the truth is

I also wanted to learn how to come back
from edge
how to quiet the screaming that starts in my brain
about how
unfair it is
to get sick like this
so young
about how I always knew the cancer
would come at me
but when it did I wasn’t ready

About how when I told a friend
over email
she sent me emoticons
little sad faces in response.

How I never found a way to lean
on other people
thinking they were just telling me what I wanted to hear
that I’ll be fine
that the cancer won’t come back
that it isn’t eating me up right now
taking little tiny bites


So I started taking yoga.
I don’t know if it’s helped
because when the teacher
Acknowledge your thoughts
and then brush them away.
I roll my eyes
under my closed lids
doing long breaths
but I will tell you this,

I’m much more flexible
then I used to be
and when it comes to other activities
that relieve stress,
like when
I need to keep my feet
as far over my head as possible
and totally loose myself

bodily, I mean,
yoga has really helped.
So maybe those white
girls were onto something.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How to Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). She has a poetry collection forthcoming from Lowghost Press entitled Better Luck Next Year.


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