The Yoga Instructor Says, Find the Space... - Jenny Boychuk

A truth: I am afraid of how
light exposes what lives

in dark rooms. Just lately I’ve noticed
the breath I inhale refuses my lungs

& gusts into my belly—as though it senses
there is something to bring to life there,

something to be saved. Instead,
it blows over an already barren valley,

an empty barn in the middle of a forest
consumed by last summer’s fires.

The cycle of decomposing & starting fresh
has come and gone. Nothing will

thrive here again. A lie: I don’t really want
to have children anyway. Each breath

searches my body until I draw it back out
& it leaves as half of what it was & shaken.

I am afraid it will eventually grow
tired of this. Someday even the moon

will fall apart, & the oceans will open
their throats to swallow its pieces.

If I could start again, I’d stand at the shore
& let the pulse spill from my fingertips.

A truth: organs are the least valuable things
suspended in our ribcages.

A truth: I am too young
to think of the moon this way.



I tend to allow my mind to wander to worst-case scenarios, and one morning I found myself wondering if I am able have children. I’m 23 and far from knowing if I even want them; but, for whatever reason, it occurred to me that I could just be one of those people who are unable to. Shortly after, I went to a yoga class. I couldn’t clear the thought from my mind, and it stayed with me throughout my practice. Yoga is meant to honor the body, but that morning I could only find myself questioning it. I questioned what, as humans, we think we’re entitled to. I questioned the dangers of expecting our lives to look a certain way.

In this poem, I wanted to examine the speaker’s distrust for her body. As the instructor asks the class to find that point of safety and serenity within themselves, the speaker scans her body and can only see it as barren and unable to facilitate any kind of life. That point of safety does not exist for her. It also felt natural to question what is “normal” and seemingly fixed and constant in the world: A woman should be able to have children, the moon will always be in the sky, and what lives in the dark should remain in the dark. Nature is terrifying in how quickly something can go wrong and entire landscapes and civilizations can be left in a state of destruction. Nature doesn’t make promises, it can’t make guarantees—and even more terrifying is the realization that humans are not separate from it. How do we learn to live with that?





Jenny Boychuk is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s Department of Writing. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The Malahat ReviewRoom MagazinePRISM internationalSalt Hill Journal and Birdfeast. She currently lives and writes in Blind Bay, British Columbia.