I invite them to enjoy

the way the adobe walls

make a quiet space to write,

or read, or be,

to savor the contrast of sun and shade

on the deep back porch.

I say, help yourself to peaches from the tree.

If you sit for a while with your coffee

you will see the birds come to play in the fountain

and a lizard or two step quickly across the brick floor.

I want them to feel

how the crown chakra opens

under this blue sky so wide

there is no way to resist.

They want me to know

there are ants in the yard

and one of the clean sheets has lint.

They point out there is no microwave.

“They didn’t say they had one,

but it’s the first place I’ve stayed

that didn’t.”

Dr. Lad, teaching pranayama, instructs his students

not to practice brahmari past a count of 17. Otherwise,

he warns, you will end up selling everything you have

and living in cave on a holy mountain. Bluebeard’s wife,

I have to try it. It’s an easy practice: sit in stillness, hum

on the long exhale. I count with my fingers so the numbers

don’t confuse my scattering mind. Four times four,

plus one more, then two or three after that. Then I get up

and go on with the day. Three days later, I sit with my notebook

and find I…

That year when the peacock just

showed up in our neighborhood, I had

heard they were loud, what I didn’t

know was that they are loud in the

middle of the night, at odd intervals

just long enough to fall back asleep in.

I printed this dress with Krishna’s

peacock feather, thinking about his

reputation as a considerate and

fulfilling lover to each of his many

girlfriends. Last night I didn’t sleep much,

maybe it was the full moon or maybe

I’m more jittery from the news, the public

hostility over vaccine and virus,

than I want to let on…

Today I will not make the coffee on schedule.

I maybe won’t make coffee at all. Today

I am thinking of the paintings in Cusco

where the goddess has the shape of

the holy mountain. My blue linen dress

is my sanctuary, I am the maker

in my studio, I have been away from the

work for too long, today I am back

inside my own mind, owning my attention,

ready to listen and construct.

It’s a smooth morning, when I

came out of Walgreen’s there was

no traffic and I crossed Rio Grande

without having to wait for the walk signal.

Now I’m making coffee, in this dress

I could be at a sidewalk cafe in Paris

instead of a back yard in Albuquerque

barely reclaimed from the desert dirt.

The hummingbirds are busy feasting

on the tiny green bugs that jump

around among the grapevines.

Today is the day I sit still enough

to see one of the tiny whirring birds

stop for a moment and stick out its tongue.

In India there are lower rates of certain cancers

because everyone eats turmeric in their food every day.

I did not dye this dress with turmeric, but I could

have. I regularly stain my left palm yellow

hand-measuring turmeric into my breakfast kasha,

my after dinner golden milk. The dress

celebrates the flames I am hoping to reduce

in my joints, acknowledges the heat

of this high-pressure summer, the fires

literal and figurative that we are all enduring.

In the temple in Mylapore, a family brought their

small child for a blessing. All of them had had

their heads shaved for the ritual, then

coated with turmeric paste to cool the heat

of the tender exposed scalps. What will cool

the heat of this hottest summer? I cut my own

hair the other day, still worried enough about

the virus to avoid the salon.

The zucchinis are a mystery. We plant seeds

at various places around the garden, all on the

same day, and some don’t even come up.

Some open to the size of an apple, a head of cabbage,

and stay there, existing but not moving,

until, late in the season, they are eaten by harlequin bugs.

One or two come up, grow, and just keep

growing, gracefully offering zucchini spears,

which we transform into ratatouille, pancakes,

grilled salad, curry. Poems are like that,

and fabric, too. Some days the words connect

the heavens to the earth like an electric storm,


Tea flowers, tea colored, on good linen.

Back yard bench, view of the garden.

Here’s where I sit and watch for the next thing,

changing weather or ripening fruit,

phone call or some old piece of myself,

one I had forgotten, ready now

to tell her story. Invite her to sit.

Pour her some tea. In this heat there’s

no rush. Let’s find out what gifts

my past is bringing me today.

Comes a time when you realize

you can have a kitchen counter full of prescription bottles

and a bellyful of fear and complaint

or you can own it, admit that this body really is wearing down.

Even so, with or without the pharmaceuticals, you have

maybe twenty, maybe thirty, more years to slog through,

more or less uncomfortably, if you’re lucky enough.

May as well step up and learn how it’s done.

So, begin. Establish a breathing practice. Learn

the kind of massage that keeps your ankles from swelling.

Get familiar with the recipe for the tonic

that keeps you…

Maybe we could stop roaring at each other.

Maybe let your lion sing instead.

Or yawn luxuriously and settle in for a nap.

It’s been hard, so hard, even for those of us

who’ve had it easy. So much tension,

so much fear. The impulse to proclaim

certainty, to define turf and defend it,

is surely understandable. Or you could

maybe turn the roar itself into

a kind of song, give it a melody,

even if it still has to be loud and emotional.

Explain to the neighbors if you have to.

Let the deep rumble carry your heart

through the frustration all the way

to laughter, let it show you

the absurdity of building walls of hostility

when you already live in the house of joy.

Elisabeth Horst

I make my own clothes and write about the process. Among other things.

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