How Young Bodies Work

Grace…in that light was a promise of balance – Joy Harjo

O timeline drop us here
the moment you step from the subway on 23rd
the boy spinning on his back / popping air
O body sharpening skin into spin
solo show staged on asphalt
deep boombox as gospel / as call and response
O instigator of moving level with the street
insistence of beats joy on his face
crowd around the B-boy / to see the freeze
O spilling out of song spilling out
the body at angles out in the open
without pause / downrock not ever astray
O living as we live never ready to stop
O the shape of that moment
A boy not seeing what he begins

thank you balance
thank you lightness
thank you grace

the sound of breath without vibration
is saying something without words it is
the body saying look at what I can do
it is synapse, reflex-wise noise not
knowing just doing things naturally
that here look unnatural in the spin
flip freeze drop pause and we marvel
at the body sharpening angles to
the asphalt not a moment off beat
we are holding our breath at
the possibility of a body’s belief
in itself we are a spectacle at the foot
of someone who understands what
it is to be in a body what it is to feel
music what it is to feel everything
balance lightness grace



Andrea Holland teaches Creative Writing at UEA and is the author of two collections of poetry, Broadcasting, which won the Norfolk Commission for Poetry and Borrowed, a finalist in The Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition. Individual poems appear in journals and anthologies, including The World Speaking Back: poems for Denise Riley, and in 2021 she had a poem nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  She is a contributor to The Portable Poetry Workshop (Palgrave/Macmillan) and has published several articles on poetry, writing and collaboration. Her new collection, High Wire  is forthcoming from Story Machine/Gatehouse Press.