Rust / Yoga (铁锈 / 瑜伽).

By Graig Barker.

Lara cancels a class on conditionals, / allowed out after nine weeks, sends a video / of grass shoots growing from her car boot, / says, if we’d stayed inside forever, only nature / would have noticed

Noodles with Beans by Aleksandar Bozic.

 

June 2020, the restaurants reopened 

 
 

The waiter sets my cat ear noodles down          猫耳朵 

and asks, “do you want to return home?” 你想回家吗?” 

 
not to nudge, just curious like others 

he watches me eat. I can’t right now. 

 
Home is a familiar grammar construct, 

a S-V-O clause. In Mandarin I ground myself, 

 
root ankles in the present tense: right now 

I am writing a poem, right now I am running 

 
现在我正在写诗歌 

现在我正在跑步 

 

around the lake after six weeks in which 

I only opened the door once a fortnight 

 
like this manuscript. I studied my body, 

stretching in the apartment, and found 

 
that my limbs folded like a penknife 

after a decade underwater. The city 

 

saw me at a midpoint, moving between 

Peaceful Warrior and Triangle Pose, 

 
offered a critique through the window, 

its many straight lines and sharp edges 

 
textbook – this is how you stay composed 

in a crisis. I hold Downward Facing Dog 

 
until I shake, thinking about two pictures,  

one from my father, queues outside an ASDA, 

 
another from Lara in Wuhan, more people 

queuing at a crematorium to collect ashes. 

 
The time difference arched from eight hours 

to a month and the air cleared; we emerged 

 
inhaling. Lara cancels a class on conditionals, 

allowed out after nine weeks, sends a video  

 
of grass shoots growing from her car boot,  

says, if we’d stayed inside forever, only nature  

 
would have noticed. She books an evening lesson 

instead, our cities identical when the sun sets. 

 
Down Dog, if I keep my fingers splayed,  

one day grass shoots will grow between them. 

The Blood Pudding – April 1, 2022

Craig Barker is originally from the UK, but now lives in China, where he teaches English. His debut full-length poetry collection, “Kudryavka: Cosmodog Dreaming,” was published by Bat Cat Press in 2020. Elsewhere, his work has been featured by The Flexible Persona, Cosmographia, and Sky Island Journal.

Artwork: Aleksander Bozic is a Serbian artist. You can find and buy his work here.