Practicing Tai Chi, I brush dirt against the wind
by Fran Markover
I stand like a tree, think in circles. My left foot on the dark kitchen square of linoleum, the right stepping onto a sunlit patch. And for fifteen minutes on an ordinary day like this Sweeping Monday I’m a Tai Chi warrior. I had expected to be more lithe, ballerina, violinist, but here I am housewife in sweats, fuzzy cat flip flops, cloud- walking, collecting dust unsucked by the vacuum. Feminist Women’s Writer stenciled on my shirt, its faded ink jar and fountain pen reminder: once a poet…. I grasp sparrow’s tail gently. Wave hands like clouds Highway traffic surges like ocean. Like April wind. I’m not weighted by anything. My palms posed the way my teacher demonstrated, open-nested− song sparrows taking leave from each hand. I conjure my Hebrew name, name that found me late in life, bequeathed from great grandmother. Breathe syllables Fei ge le, Fagey’s stories reborn with each ache and rivering sinew. Her son’s body− grandpa’s− like mine, gifted with muscle memory, bearing family lore: flight becoming acts of grace. White stork lifts wings Here’s my father rustling between east and west. He plays Down in the Valley, harmonica vibrating through celestial hills. Roses love sunshine, violets love dew, angels in heaven know I love you. He asks What are you doing standing like a broken bird? I tell him: once I met a pigeon who wobbled on one leg then soared beyond his pickings. I strengthen kicks, stretch, rooted. When I reach for his billowing chair my father bows among the seven stars. Fair lady at shuttles Grief brocaded onto my skin− mother’s passing, lost brother to the streets, my biopsy mapping its circuitous course. Among amorphous shapes of fright, my legs establish themselves, arms curve, almost closing. They embrace what the universe bestows. Then release, a ballooning till I’m wings, till sorrow fledges through the kitchen toward the oak-cathedraled forest, soft eyes, knees bent slightly. I imagine pebbles beneath my soles. The way to remain upright in an uncertain brook before punches and parries, the final turns. Wind sweeps the plum blossoms
Fran Markover lives in Ithaca, NY where she works as psychotherapist. Her poems have been published in many journals including Rattle, Calyx, Earth’s Daughters, Karamu, Cider Press Review, Spillway, Able Muse. Her chapbook History’s Trail was published by Finishing Line Press. Her recent book, Grandfather’s Mandolin, was finalist for the Henry Morgenthau III First Book Poetry Prize. Other honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination and poetry residencies at the Saltonstall Foundation.