Tai Chi Y3D148: Push

Today was my second run-through of Push, following on my ‘edit’ of yesterday’s Press.  The first time, I wrote this:

When press ends, the front right foot holds the weight,
but now at the start of push roll it back,
for if you continue forward, your fate
is to be pulled off-balance.  Give up slack —
separate your joined hands as you withdraw
and orient them so the palms face out.
The left foot moves not, so you let the law
of gravity help you. Act with no doubt,
pushing your mass from your left foot, to front
(make right hand stronger, since diagonal force
from left foot to right hand will push the brunt
of your mass on your foe). But stop — of course —
when your open hands are above your knee
for this disciplined balance keeps you free.

I like it.  I don’t love it.  I’m supposed to be editing the poem, right, not rewriting it completely? I’m not sure I can do that.  I’m happy with this poem as it is, but I’m not sure that I can leave it to stand as it is.  Should it be re-written? Or should I write another? Write another, I guess.

Press completed, right forearm rides the line
defined by the right knee above the toes.
Before me is a space I might call “mine”,
but recognize what any master knows,
that both advance and retreat have their place.
Release the block, withdraw from right to left,
then wait on the left. Now relax your face
and glance around — was last action so deft
the fight is done? Align fore-arms with thighs,
and spread hands to prep for what happens next.
Shift weight left to right evenly: don’t rise
up to heaven — but sinister to dext’,
keep Tan Tien at same height off the ground:
force moves forward, not “up”, “down” or “around”.

Mmmm.  Still not happy with this.  Moving in the right direction, maybe. But still not there.  The nature of this work, of course, is complicated. There’s no way that I can explain adequately in language an experience that is not rooted in language — physical movements don’t begin in the throat usually, and they’re certainly not rooted in the experience of speaking or writing.

That said, though, I’m realizing that having the poem repeat like they were verses, may not be the best.  Using the repeating lines is an advantage for me, poetically, but it robs the reader or listener of fourteen lines at a time which could be offering advice on posture and technique.  There’s probably a “best practice” here somewhere of using some of the lines in these ‘repeated actions’ as part of a repeated verse, along the lines of a French poem’s Tournai (is that what it’s called? I forget). But I haven’t figured out what that is. Maybe on the ‘revision of the whole’, perhaps, when I have the complete poems of all of the individual actions, fully assembled.

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