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Posts Tagged ‘fencing’

 

 

within an hour

I watch the boy transform

from seed to leaf to flower

 

 

 

 

 

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Repechage

 

 

 

Before on guard,

you meet your opponent

on the strip

without your mask

and hold your sword

between your eyes—

a salute—before

you drop the sword

and don the mask.

 

How much of the match

is fought in the gaze?

There are ways

to attack and riposte

when the body

is achingly still.

 

It’s a glint, a squint,

an unblinking hold.

It’s a stare, a glare,

a flash. I’ve felt it before—

known that it was all over

before it began.

 

But we pull on the mask

anyway, prepare

to engage, though already

we know how this goes—

who wins, and who

walks away wondering

how next time, next time

it could be different.

 

 

 

* Repechage: the competition formula which gives losers of a direct elimination bout a second chance to stay in the competition

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Advancing

 

 

 

In fencing, they call it la belle,

“the beautiful one” the tie-breaking point

in a bout—that moment when

one person touches another

and the balance is tipped.

How long ago the balance tipped

in your favor. How long ago

I knew that all I really want

is to lower my sword,

give the invitation

for you to touch me again,

beautifully, tip to target, then

start the bout again.

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Fencing 101

 

 

 

It starts as tag. The instructor

tapes off a strip in the room—

the piste—and my son and I,

confined by the long bounds,

chase and reach for each other.

But the person who’s it

keeps changing. “Left,”

says the teacher, and I am it.

I lunge for my son’s arm, and

“Right,” says the teacher, and

I retreat as fast as I can,

my son now charging for me.

“Left.” “Right.” “Left.” “Right.”

We learn quickly to hold

our weight low, to keep

one foot forward, to allow

distance enough to tag

and not enough that we might

be tagged back.

The game is familiar. I flush

with young joy. Later

we learn to extend

our arms before we lunge,

to advance, to retreat,

to allow just the right distance

to strike, to not be struck.

The instructor gives us

a string to hold between us—

our goal is to keep the curve in it,

not to let it go too slack, too taught.

My son and I dance

forward and back, keeping

step with each other.

both of us smiling, both of us

serious as steel. When it’s done,

we shake what would be

our ungloved hands.

We have learned just enough

to know there’s so much more

to learn. As we leave, I feel

it still between us,

an invisible string, linking us

in this odd game of love,

the world our piste,

one hand always ready to battle,

the other hand, ever vulnerable,

ready to open, to reach,

to meet the other

with devastatingly effective

tenderness.

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