Classic Green Army Figures Give Up Guns for Yoga

Karen Skolfield Click to

Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry. She’s the winner of the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in poetry from The Missouri Review. Skolfield is an Army veteran and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

(for Dan Abramson, creator of “Yoga Joes”)

At the apex of the pose
those little green arms
feel the pop of little green tendons.
Satisfaction of the stretch.
Whoever said lay down
your weapons has never
laid down weapons in quite this way,
plasticine, the arms forming a letter,
V for victory, L for lion hearted,
Y for the question Why this war.
The forever warrior pose.
Soldiers, be small and green
in your work, pliant everlasting,
road of the rising sun;
form the body into another animal,
the crane and hare in salutation,
cobra at the bend, be the hunter
or the hunted, glide of limbs
into the posture of the half-hero.
When the yoga soldiers
breathe out, the fresh tang
of the newly minted upon them.
In basic training, how we stretched
on our racks and slept
symmetrically, savasana,
the held corpse stance
of our night’s sleeping.
Bound angle, Bikram triangle,
the swing of legs over
the bunk’s edge. On waking,
the stretch of limbs, that extra minute
climbing back into our bodies.