The instructor said to loosen
my knees, to wallow in my pain,
to low, even. My head and forearms
on her counter, I was shaking it slow
for my wife watching with the rest.
I felt exactly like a man

trying to act like a woman
to be thought of as the kind of man
willing to act like a woman
to please his wife. The tittering said
for the men I was doing it right,
but the instructor wanted a different sway.

She lifted my stomach to make my spine
a buttress, to tuck my tailbone.
I felt a quiet alignment, a sleeve
of light fluting through oak canopy
into bowls in the undergrowth,
deer beds, lobes and buds around them

bright, some webbing trembling
like water. When the instructor
tapped me on the shoulder I returned
to my seat. Fear creates tension
creates pain
. That’s what she kept

David Thacker is a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University and holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Idaho. A recipient of the Fredrick Manfred Award from the Western Literature Association, his poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Subtropics, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere.