Bow! barks the sensei.
Meditate! and the students
in white hold their gaze
at their hands folded in front
of them like a heart that has formed
outside of themselves. Ten seconds later:
Now move! says the sensei, Move! Move! Move!
And the students thrust and punch
and jab. Move! Move! Move! Move!
But Rumi, with his white belt, stands
in the back still staring at his hands.
They are, he considers, both friends
and enemies at the very same time.
Move! Move! Move! Move! But Rumi
does not move. Though the class sashays
around him in a circle to the right.
Switch! and a circle to the left. Their arms
are up at right angles in front to guard them
from any possible hit. Switch!
And a circle to the right. Soon the hour
is over and the students have bowed
and changed back into t-shirts
and jeans, but Rumi stands there, still,
in the center of the room, one hand
in the other, his legs rooted wide,
paying attention to the blending of things.
* I recently got to sit in on a karate class in Telluride and was humbled by the discipline, the reverence, and the athletic beauty of the sport. I also was in awe of the instructor, who handled the wily young with respect. I know so little of karate and look forward to learning more.