Living Room Yoga/Language of the Dog by Maj Ragain

My wife is practicing yoga in our living room,
a bare chested, beautiful man, Rodney Yee,
directing her every move, on the flat screen TV.

A down dog, then, exhale.

Push up, upward dog.

Jump into a squat. Strongly flex your feet.

Open your chest.

His yoga mat is spread out in a grassy field
overlooking the blue Pacific. In the distance I see
what must be Diamond Head, Hawaii.
Closer is LuAnn, following his every move.

Feel your thighbones as you touch your hamstrings.

Inhale upward dog.

On the floor behind her,
I lean on a sore left elbow and sip cold coffee.
I love this woman now, until my last breath.
It took years for me to lift my stone heart,
the size of one of those purple exercise balls
rolling around in the tropic sunshine,
to lift it, to offer it to her.

The screen goes blank. My wife Lu rolls up her rainbow yoga mat.
She walks barefoot to the kitchen to begin the clatter of supper.

All day I have been staring
down into the deep throat of war,
its cold darkness, searching for the faces
of my friends the veterans in whose
nightmares the Betties still bounce
and the punjis stick.

Dog soldiers, dogs of war,

upward dogs, downward dogs.

Dog tags, they are fixed to the trigger guard
on the rifle of the fallen soldier,
the rifle staked barrel down into the earth,
so he may be identified later, this downward dog.
Name, rank, serial number embossed
in the words and numbers of the living.

Now, a downward dog, then, exhale.

Then, open your chest.

No one knows the language of the dead.

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