Rust / Yoga (铁锈 / 瑜伽).
By Craig 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
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 – June 2, 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.