Child’s Pose

imagine your heart is just a ball you learned to dribble up
and down the length of your driveway back home. slow down

control it. plant your feet in the soft blue of your mat and release
it is hard but slowly you are unlearning the shallow pant

of your childhood. extend your body—do not reach
for someone but something fixed and fleshless and certain—

fold flatten then lift your head like a cobra sure of the sun
waiting and ready to caress the chill

from its scales. inhale—try not to remember how desperate
you’ve been for touch—yes ignore it—that hitch of your heart

you got from mornings you woke to find momma hysterical
or gone. try to give up the certainty she’d never return

recall only the return and not its coldness. imagine her arms
wide to receive you imagine you are not a thing that needs

escaping. it is hard and though at times you are sure
you will always be the abandoned girl trying to abandon herself

push up arch deep into your back exhale and remember—
when it is too late to pray the end of the flood

we pray instead to survive it.


Copyright © 2018 by Brionne Janae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote the last line of this poem the day after the 2016 election. And while those lines, for me, are a direct response to the devastation many of us felt after that event, I was, at the time, uninterested in writing a political poem and more interested in looking at how we survive and cope with all the little intimate devastations in our life. In its most basic sense, this poem is an exploration of what it means to acknowledge how little control you have over everything and everyone in the world and how you can only try to control your own body and responses to trauma instead, as a means to cope and hopefully survive.”
—Brionne Janae