Mercy and Other Poems

    By Danish Husain

    1 – Mercy

    Like a ribbed Sun
    My days are grey strips
    Shuffling through swaths
    Of your glowing kindness
    And then…

    they dissolve

    Into the dark of the night.

    2 – Heal

    If you were to peel
    The layers of reason
    You’d see a gash,
    The truth;
    Reach there. Heal.

    3 – A Mid-Poem Riff

    Sometimes just a word
    Is a commune of meaning,
    Its utterance
    The entire journey
    From where you stand
    To the mid-poem me.

    4 – The Taste Of Love

    Strip by strip
    I’ve skinned this face
    My raw story
    Hangs now as flesh
    Kiss me, this is how
    Our past tastes

    5 – Step Across

    Pause. Reflect.
    Raise your gaze
    Neither to her hijab
    Nor to her open hair
    But to where stands.
    The oppressor.
    And then…

    Step across
    To where there is justice,
    To a day better than this.

    6 – Memory: An Act Of Forgetting

    Right now, just like that
    I let a memory of you
    Slip through my sleeve
    And drop to the floor.
    It had snivelled,
    Snivelled long,
    Long up my sleeve.
    Really? How did you do it? This is what Muhammad
    Made them do
    When they sneaked
    Idols up their sleeves
    When arraying for prayers.
    Fools! Did they really believe
    They could contain Omniscience,
    The Lord, the Almighty Himself?

    And then in any conversation, anywhere
    A thought of you descends in my eyes
    Suddenly I am looking yet not looking
    listening yet not listening
    talking yet not talking
    I get visions of Mahadev
    Slaking evil, turning blue
    The word in its grandeur
    Unfurls on me – ‘imbue’
    I know now exactly what it means
    To not lose myself and still be you.

    Oh, that was easy!
    I thought memories
    Were like henna
    That taint your heart
    In a Ghalib couplet.
    As hard to remove
    As nails from toes.

    (Erasing the thought of your henna-dyed fingers from my heart
    Became an act of tearing the nails away from my flesh)

    Then in another space
    My fellow actor and I rehearse.
    He screams the script
    “A vice… grabbing…” my feet?
    A memory of a memory once told
    Somersaults, tears through, holds forth
    Of a man walking through winter fields
    Finds a snake entwined around his legs.
    He catches the beast by its head,
    Frees himself, and continues walking
    As if nothing had appeared.
    Ah, crap! Memories –
    They’re just other people’s bags
    You’re forced to carry –
    Too happy to lose,
    Too happy to never have possessed.

    Right now, just like that
    I let a memory of you
    Slip through my sleeve
    It had snivelled,
    Snivelled long,
    Long enough to be putrid
    Long enough for me to
    Chain it any further
    To our ever-present past.
    Like a Baul
    I too must find an unfettered God.
    Milon hobe kote dino… Amar Moner Manusher shonge…

    Danish Husain is an actor, storyteller, poet, and a theatre director. He was instrumental in reviving the lost art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi, which he later extended into a multilingual storytelling platform called Qissebaazi. He lives in Mumbai and runs his theatre company The Hoshruba Repertory.

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