合気道 (The Way of Unifying Life Energy) — A Poem by Megan Kim

This poem by Megan Kim, in honor of her father Andrew Kim, was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Kodon, Wheaton College’s literary journal.

My father practices aikido
three times a week, dons
a white gi and bows
to his peers.

I went once to his dojo,
its air the weight of cathedral
air, like that pocket of space
between pews where time
is suspended, reshaped
according to the body.

Remove your shoes, this is ground
where we fall again
and again, wrestle softly,
tread lightly. Exchange of force,
not excess of it.

I will act against you,
but there will be a mediation
of intentions. I expect you
to harmonize my movements
with your own,
so even as we
stand in opposition I
am being invited.

My father has practiced aikido
since he was a boy, learned for forty years
to take and transform energy.
And still he mends his gi by hand,
returns to the mat three times a week.
Takes off his shoes. Bows.

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