Dhanurāsana (Bow Pose)
We are balanced on our stomachs with our legs bent,
feet pushing forward as we reach back and grab our ankles and
the yogi tell us to lift our chests and we will hold it for ten,
ten infinitely long breaths as we come into this position.
Eyes closed, but we can still feel the crispness of a March
fresh-picked and arranged at the market, with its subtle stars,
nine, and the last breaths of winter still clinging to its hair.
Collarbones creak. We draw our shoulder blades together. We feel
the tension of heartwood, running from the knots of the crown,
eight, crossing the ribs like xylophones, coiling down the spine
and through the legs: we become density. Blood turns to sap. And
arms are straining to be bowstrings, stretching back until,
seven, our heels are cupped in our palms and the body is one
united mass of tension. We rock back and forth slightly, more
boats than bows, inhaling, dipping our sterns, exhaling,
six, letting our breaths touch the breath that comes in through
one open window. Somewhere there is a change. Some
divine archer is reaching through the roof and plucking our
five, saying more pull, still more, and he speaks through
the yogi who says open your heart. This is the contradiction:
drawn so taut that you think everything will snap, and at the
four, surrender as the ribs yawn and the ankles grow sweaty.
Open your heart. The chakra shifts. We can tell that they are
behind sternums, heavy-headed nodules of green, waiting to,
three, burst. They dip and nod like the capsules of opium
swollen as cartoon bombs. Anahata, uninjured, unjammed,
hoping to open and spread a bit of its color. We are almost
two, we feel ourselves quiver with the strain and the release.
We are full of these deep, primal body messages that we can't
thoughts. It is knowing. When fingers slip from ankles,
one, snaps loose. Heart gone nova. Bow fired. The whole spirit
turned into an arrow, shooting upward through an open window,
it will pierce the sky and drown in the first rain of the
Might have been five or six
when we pulled out your mother's jewelry
from its teakwood cradle.
We freed the jangling sapphires
from their silver manacles, weighing each one,
declaring them delicacies fit for royalty. I said
they had the taste of sunset drowned in the sea.
You thought they were more the tears
of some sentimental dragon.
Amethysts had a forbidding grape pungency.
Emeralds were the crystallized blood of apples
pregnant with the summer heat.
One opal pried loose from its brass suspenders
was a single, perfect drop of unicorn milk.
She found us there with the juices of the earth
tarnishing our chins, and later,
we couldn't explain just what it was we had done.
But we had cracked the dreams of conquistadors
between bicuspids. We dug out wealth
with toothpicks. Rivulets of geological honey
tumbled down our throats,
and every motion of our bodies became precious.
Steam climbs out of the kettle with its thirty-odd limbs,
leaves hot blue whips of condensation down the sides. I ask,
what do you think you're doing, and it says, terribly sorry.
But I have an appointment elsewhere. I am having
lunch with my cousin, who is the smell before a thunderstorm
hanging over you like a canyon wall. Its voice leans.
For water vapor, it is very polite, and so I do not begrudge
its going. But now I am left with cooling water and a handheld
ceramic well with a teabag child at the bottom, dissolute, dry.
Memories of steam give the water just a bit of heat. But
it does nothing but make darjeeling uncomfortable.
I am sorry about this, I say, for so many things. My cravings.
The fickleness of thermodynamics. Tepidity. The teabag only
moans a long hollow eeee and I can't tell what it's
Maybe its own dreams; maybe confessions; maybe we
are one long chain of apologies, the steam, the tea, and me.
The Lunar Eclipse
We watch them hoist the moon up
from the basement
with arm-thick ropes. She leaves
furrows in the sky,
deep wounds that vanish beneath
a swift nightrise
where Betelgeuse rolls like a
and the Pleiades can hide all
They draw the moon behind their
chariots to the peak.
She teeters. She topples from an
Our throats have grown hoarse in
the cold with waiting
and singing the name of Luna.
immersing herself in a bath of
blushing a demure, desert pink.
We cannot call her disloyal for
well-deserved break: this is no
slight against our need
for illumination across the
This is her stepping out for a
cigarette. This is
when everyone ought to be
and it’s us with our cloaks and
daggers and candles
bothering about her journeys.
She squeezes her big body behind
that blood-rose veil
to get a little bit of privacy
from her glaring companions.
Once in a while, she tires of
Her decisions are the engine of
change: and when she
declares her intermission, we
applaud and murmur,
what a performance this is so
Joseph Harker is the
pseudonym of a vagrant twentysomething from the East Coast of
the US. When not wandering from city to city and getting up to
mischief, he writes poems whenever he can. You can see his work
in both print and online journals, such as Bolts of Silk,
Ganymede, and Qarrtsiluni, but it's easiest to find him at his
So far, his summer has been all right.