I spoke a few blog posts ago about finding my way into writing about the body again, but in a different way than I have done so in the past. Today, while doing lat pull-downs at the gym, I was reflecting on how much I have always loved the latissimus dorsi. When I was in massage school, it was my favorite muscle, and I loved to think about it as the wings of the body. It’s a strong, powerful muscle, known as a “prime mover” and it has many functions, which you can read about on the interwebs if you feel moved to do so.
Until I started doing the strength training, my lats were was just sitting back there, unstimulated, half-asleep and all but forgotten by me. A few weeks ago, my trainer showed me how to do lat pull-down properly, and how to use this certain machine that has a rowing motion. When I first started using the machines, I really didn’t have a good “feel” for my lats. I couldn’t sense them working at all and was I not, as my trainer pointed out with perhaps a hint of impatience, “dialed in” to them. But after a lot of repetitions, I am definitely dialed in now. I can feel when they’re engaged during the exercises, and I can tell for sure that they’ve gotten a bit more defined and stable. It’s nice to be friends with my lats.
I’ve had a hard week psychologically. It has to do with things that are tied into the body, that are being dredged up from this strengthening process, which I did not plan or expect to have become some pivotal part of a physical and emotional healing process. It just happened. Like any healing process, it’s not easy to go through. Today, I needed to express something affirmative. I put pen to paper and after a few hours, a new poem emerged. I hope you enjoy it.
The word latissimus dorsi (plural: latissimi dorsi) comes from Latin and means "broadest muscle of the back", from "latissimus" (Latin: broadest)' and "dorsum" (Latin: back).--Wikipedia
wings of the body, rise
and close into the pillar of my spine.
Kin of herons, steadfast
guardian, I grant you
effort and form,
resistance and motion,
breath and blood
in this sacred and scared and burning body, this
body luminous with eloquent hungers, this
body attendant to its million tides, this
body with its enduring arch of bone, this
body of precise and reverent failures.
In love, raise
my long arms in worship and receiving.
In strength, pull
earthward every blessing.