Julie Benesh

Issue 1: Prose Poetry

Dear Yoga

I don’t remember the first time I met you. It’s like you were always around, dressed down and calling yourself Stretch at the end of those cardio classes, grinding on Mat or else glammed up in those videos looking like a different entity altogether. I went through the motions with your freak cousin Gymnastics back in the day, although she actually scared the crap out of me, and I wanted no part of your virtue-signaling, humble-braggin’ Uncle Meditation. And, frankly, nothing I heard about you, or saw on Instagram, made me exactly eager to get to know you better. Basically you seemed like a phony, high maintenance poser.

Were we supposed to meet at some fancy, exclusive club, or were you willing to Netflix and chill?

Do we need expensive clothes and equipment, or can we wear anything or nothing?

How much third party participation is …normal? Were we supposed to decline those hands-on adjustments, or relax and enjoy them?

If you are really up for anything with anyone everyone, why’s there all that competition for your attention? Are you so easy… or just a tease?

And, yeah, supposedly, occasionally, you kill or maim your lovers, which you might expect from someone named, like, Boxing, or Hockey. But Yoga?

And whaddup with the Sanskrit. Seriously?! Hello…have you heard of cultural appropriation?

Of course eventually I had to stick my legs up your wall. On a dare, to shut everyone up; a rite of passage. The shame! But it brought us together, so I’m mostly grateful. The first time I slept with you– you called it “savasana”– I saw visions. I’d never felt that way before.

Now it’s been years, and it is still so good. Sometimes three times a day for weeks; sore in that good way. Other times I get busy, forget to make an effort, can’t find the time or energy to do you properly, but like they say, even just to lay there and breathe is still doing Yoga! And every time, alone at home or out in a group of friends or strangers, is different, and every time is wonderful.

I especially love doing you outside, like on North Avenue Beach or in Lincoln Park. It’s weird, I admit, when tourists from Schaumburg walk by and take pictures of our Down Dog or a video of our Happy Baby, but I don’t blame them. You are beautiful. Together, we are beautiful.

And those teenage boys who mock us, mimicking our poses, our passion, our awkward tumbles? Ten years from now their girl (or boy)friends will be dragging them to you, traipsing late into crowded, hot rooms, as we hop from the tide of man-sweat pooling at their feet.

I am but a Humble Warrior and I don’t deserve you. But just like they said, as long as I’m breathing, I’ll be doing you. DTY forever.

Namaste.

Julie Benesh has been published in Tin House Magazine, Bestial Noise: A Tin House Fiction Reader, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Berkeley Fiction Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other places. Her work has earned an Illinois Arts Council Grant and a Pushcart nomination. Julie has an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College, lives in Chicago with two cats and a lot of books, and works a day job as a professor and at a school of psychology.

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