Angela Farmer’s Poem


For Vilma and her Calendar Girls

I was fifteen when
They cut my life apart with knives.

First time my mother said she’d buy me
a necklace
    to hide the scar
They never told about the side-effects
of that surgery…
  of dried-out hands
    that could no longer sweat

Plates slipped and broke
A blurred sensation now where touch and
texture once gave joy

“You can use a salve called “Snow-fire”
they later said
  “It’s thick and green”

Next year a bigger scar
  left and right across this young belly
“Had to do that … in case of gangrene
  We take out nerve ganglions … five of
  them on either side of the spine”

I woke up bloated and bewildered …
  “Ginger-beer helps” a nurse offered

Two sweet boys came to visit with a crate
  But I was lost
    something gone

Feet dried out
  and slid from under
Skin cracked and bled … I walked on knives
  wore socks in summer
Later learned that also gone
Was any chance to conceive a child.

    Belly now were living separate lives
Fear filled in the spaces

Heart rose and crashed
  love passed by unspoken
Sex loomed and left
Head hung on
  clinging to ideas, ideals
“Must stay above it all”

Half my life seemed stolen
  Body shrank as all sense of being, feeling
    clung to bone
The loss got quickly buried

Survival came with work and study
  ‘til twelve years on
      Yoga found me
  was the band-aid
Gave me strength and power
A practice hard enough to fortify my walls
We are miracles of ‘repair work’
  so long as no one digs into our psyche!

Then one day the bubble burst
And there I was inside still hiding

Fame and struggle had blinded me to a
simple realization
“there must be another way”.

Across India up and down
I traveled searching for a teacher
Who could show me how
  and where the secret lay.

Great myths are not so simple …
they answer prayers another way.
A voice spoke up from deep inside
  and lead me to a a place called Karnak
    where each day the sun rose
    from the sea
    and on the temple walls
Most lovely deities carved in stone
  sang, danced in ecstasy, played flute
  the morning sun upon them.

No stern church with pointed spire
  or sermons preached … cerebral dams
No thin and bony nuns or skin-tight yogis
  voluptuous femininity brought stone
  to life.

I stood in silence
  awakening slowly to unravel
  and recover a sacred, sensual truth

Round breasts, full buttocks, bellies
  curving swaying
    to unheard music

Faces lifted to a lover’s kiss
  the first long shafts of sun-light
    breaking loose.

I saw the path that I had followed
  stern and thin … onwards leading
I saw myself alone
  a yogi in a cave
I saw how every curve and roundness
  sense of touch and joy
    had been denied
softness traded for hard lines of something
  called perfection
A path of man so straight and narrow …

Something shifted then
  fell, let go
    sweet memories returning

The sun’s warm rays had touched me deep
and lovingly

It was a moment in my life
    of change
  conception of a woman’s path
A way to own this body
  filling it with
With huge forgiveness and delight.

— Angela Farmer

Angela Farmer

Angela and her husband Victor van Kooten are highly respected, senior yoga teachers who have been teaching the world over for more than 35 years. Last year, the BBC and Lonely Planet included Angela and Victor’s Eftalou Yoga Hall, which is located on the Greek island of Lesvos, on a top ten list of  the Worlds Best Yoga Spots, calling it the “Most Peaceful.”