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For Chase, Leaving for China


Right now on Wen Hua Lu the chuar vendors

are looking at a small white sun, the first

in months. The rain is done. They’re setting up

their carts, beating scrap metal into ovens,

stopping their banter long enough to hand over

a stick of spicy lamb. The juice runs down

my chin, three years ago, in Zhengzhou,

and I’m already laughing at my lover,

whose mouth is red with lai jiaou. Brother,

may you find a love like this: A dirty street

in early spring; someone’s face, grinning,

leaning in to kiss away a spice

from mountains neither of you knows; a crowd

of a dozen laughing men, who shout to you

something about foreigners! and love! —

the only things around you understand.



Brooke Belk works as an Associate Strategy Director in Raleigh, North Carolina, and as a Yoga instructor. She has previously had her poems “How to Garden in the Family Graveyard in Zebulon, North Carolina” and “The Jumper” published in catheXis northwest press, Oct. 1 2018. She lived in China for a year. Her passions include writing, singing, dance, yoga, coffee, and cats.


Carol Ann Duffy says: ‘For Chase, leaving for China’ by Brooke Baker Belk is another compact poem; one that works on three levels at once: as a celebration of place, as a contained love poem, and as a blessing for a brother going on a journey. I admired what it achieved in just 16 lines.


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