Tell me I am necessary for you like sleep…
and not like opium to carry forgetting,
or pleasant as a breeze
scented with jasmine.
Tell me what you see
behind my art, my bright cloth.
Look into my face and show it to me.
Tell me what you read in books
and hear in coffee houses, wedding parties. Teach me.
When our tired, gladdened bodies
drift down onto the bed,
kiss me like a husband
and spread over me an endless blue wing…
Notes on this poem
This poem comes from Shazea Quraishi’s The Courtesans Reply, inspired by M. Ghosh’s translation from the Sanskrit of The Caturbhani, four monologue plays written around 300BC on the life of courtesans in India. Shazea writes about this poem: ‘Carandasi’ begins and ends with a line from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘Two Stranger Birds in Our Feathers’. The tenderness in his lines was the seed that grew into my poem.’