Dhanurāsana (Bow Pose) by Joseph Harker from Issue 24

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 evening
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 like
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 elbows,

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 same time,

four, surrender as the ribs yawn and the ankles grow sweaty.
Open your heart. The chakra shifts. We can tell that they are stirring
behind sternums, heavy-headed nodules of green, waiting to,

three, burst. They dip and nod like the capsules of opium poppies,
swollen as cartoon bombs. Anahata, uninjured, unjammed,
hoping to open and spread a bit of its color. We are almost there,

two, we feel ourselves quiver with the strain and the release.
We are full of these deep, primal body messages that we can’t call
thoughts. It is knowing. When fingers slip from ankles, everything,

one, snaps loose. Heart gone nova. Bow fired. The whole spirit
turned into an arrow, shooting upward through an open window, where
it will pierce the sky and drown in the first rain of the season.

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