First Tai Chi

by Jennie Boyd Bull

Welcome—leave those clunky sneakers at the door—
             slippers or bare feet are best for now.
Breathe in deep, exhale all the can’ts—
             all those fears, pains, discombobulated body parts.
You are a whole mind-and-body being
             here to play tai chi.

Stand still and notice your feet
             sinking into the floor.
Breathe out. Relax jaw, neck, shoulders,
             feel your spine lift your head until it’s suspended from the sky.
Begin to move from your core—your hands
             two inches below your navel.
             Let your breath sink down, down to your gut.
Separate earth and sky—lower body heavy, grounded,
             upper body light, fluid—a bird.

Move in slow smooth circles side to side,
             push off from the earth,
                          let your torso, arms and head follow
                                       like a flock of birds.

Stand still again—
             feel the silence
                                       release all those past days and future nights into
                                       present moment, present movement—now.

At home, repeat the circle again and again—
             practice in the yard under the trees
             in the living room with rug rolled up
             at the rest stop along the interstate.

Play tai chi until your beautiful body,
             steady on a crane’s leg,
                          spreads its wings and flies
                                       with the flock of birds.

Jennie Boyd Bull recently retired to the South Toe River Valley, where she enjoys teaching Tai Chi and Qigong, hiking, and volunteering with Dig In! Community Garden and the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. Her poems have appeared in several North Carolina periodicals and in Where I Live: Coming Home to the Southern Mountains (Finishing Line Press, 2018). She is currently writing a memoir and learning to weave, when she’s not practicing Tai Chi in the front yard, weeding the garden, or curled up reading with Lily the cat.