Melanie is my yoga instructor. Sometimes she’s pregnant, other times not. Her voice is soothing in a way that would annoy me under other circumstances, like a preschool teacher without a preschool class.
I’ve never met Melanie. She instructs me from the TV screen in my apartment, where I roll and slope across my blue mat like a long-necked onion. She tells me to tuck my chin into my chest. She tells me to get on all fours and breathe like a cat, like a cow. I think this is how it goes. A low cobra, a downward dog. All animals I can envision. Becoming is something else.
But it feels good on the floor, shapeshifting into my body, my body shapeshifting into me. With every exhale I think about the movie Red Dragon, and the impossible tattoo on the Dragon’s broad back, how he contorts its limbs to life.
Melanie says to stop thinking these thoughts. I should be clearing my mind, or breathing into my low belly. Whatever she says. She tells me to lift myself up off of my flat back one vertebra at a time. Let my core do the work. I try to imagine my ribs rising up one at a time to heed her call like a palm frond. But I can only see jars of teeth, broken mirrors. I can only see the Dragon clicking through a slideshow in a dark room. Fear is not what you owe me, he says. You owe me awe.
I am becoming, as he says. Melanie tells me to lie like a child. I plank like a board. Today she’s pregnant. Today she says she wishes she could do as she says. She asks me to place my hands on blocks and press my big toes together. I forget to steady my breathing. I lift up using only a hand and a foot. Higher. I am becoming. Melanie says to relax my forehead, to relax my jaw. I loosen myself from myself. I double over, swing my arms, catch an elbow in each hand. Like the Dragon’s tattoo, I look almost alive.