Drishti – a poem by Steve Straight


Standing on my left leg, knee slightly bent,
my right knee lifted high in the warm air
of this room at the community center,
both arms raised and wrists limp,
I hear our yoga teacher remind us all of drishti:
Find a spot on the floor in front of you,
a fleck on the tile, a bit of pattern in someone’s
towel. Now soften your gaze so that you are
looking but not looking.

The hard stare seems to be the way to see
the world these days, reading five newspapers
a day and hopping from website to website
waiting for the alchemy of reporting
to reveal the golden nugget that will
bring down these evil clowns,

but as my shaky crane pose shows,
that way of looking, of being,
opens the window for the winged monkeys
of attachment, snatching attention
and carrying it off in their sharp claws.

Perhaps it is time to find
the unmoving point in all of this,
reduce the existential wobble,
to imagine the horizon in front of us
no matter where we are, find
the Steadicam of the mind that stills us
when all about is shifting, tectonic,

or even, now, to practice trataka,
gazing at a candle in the dark
with eyes open until they water,
bathing and cleansing the vision
with the tears of renewal:
one flame, one heart.


Steve Straight’s books include The Almanac (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, 2012) and The Water Carrier (Curbstone, 2002). He is professor of English and director of the poetry program at Manchester Community College, in Connecticut, US.

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