– not a number you associate with 

The age of the dead. Four hundred – not a 

Measure of kilometres you think of as lying 

Ahead. Hundreds of thousands – an amount

That exceeds the space in my mind, so many

Hearts beating that when one of them burst, even

Its silence seems impossible to find. How do we

Claim to think of ourselves as one, a number

So invisible that we may never know its kind.

How will we account for fares unrefunded,

Trains unboarded, homes unreached, the lives

Discounted, the peace unbreathed, the pity

Unspoken. One, a number divisible only by itself

On every step of every long march home 

Lies broken.


For Ashley, Aswathy, and all those sending food to the unhoused on the long road home

You can tell you’re home because they feed you.

Bowls and platters filled in love fried and sautéed and

Curried by hand each spice and grain and leaf 

Chosen with care because you’re home and they need you

To know how good it is to have you in the circle

Of their arms, out of harms way. You could say

That this recent splurge of breads and cakes

Exotic recipes, tender meats, and aromatic

Bakes is a circling of arms about ourselves, 

A reaching up into neglected cupboards to

Shake a little love from tins on our shelves.  Such

A strange thing, food. Hastily wrapped

Meals, made by strangers for nameless strangers

Trapped between the leaving and the returning

So many unhoused each one unknown. Such a

Strange thing, food, delivered in packets,  

Hundreds at a time, carrying the promise of home.

A Hundred and One Nights of the Falcon

Where I come from, no gift comes in round numbers. No ten

Rupees is ever given, it is always eleven, a token

Of not finishing, not ending, the extra one a harbinger

An invitation, a wish, a granting of plenty, of more

To come. Auspicious, we call it. A bringing to the fore

Of a promise for the years before the young. Where

I come from there is a tale of a clever woman who staved

Off death with a thousand tales, each one saved

For another night won, a full thousand and one. Where

I come from, legend has it that women sat vigil not 

One night or two, not a couple, a handful, a dozen, a 

Few. Stories are told in hushed tones of a full hundred 

And one, every thrower of stones has heard it, every 

Wielder of guns. Songs are sung of the women of the night

Who spread their wings, became falcons, and took flight.

‘Not by eastern windows only’

I read it first when I was twelve,
A poem my father remembered from
His early days in school. I’m not sure
What he was thinking but we spoke of it
Often over the years. Battles waged and lost
Wars that ended in tears, hope was always
The prize. Because the quality of light
Perhaps, is also twice blest, touching
Those who are beaten and those who wield
The batons of power with the same
Vision of unrest. Every woman sitting
Through the night, every student braving
Authority’s might, every migrant
Shouting against the roar, every
Citizen courting arrest – they know
Why they fight, they know what this
Is for, they know why they persist. Hope
Is the only reward of all those who resist.