Reading: Mourning and Other Activities by Raza Ali Hasan

Raza Ali Hasan (b. ?) is a Pakistani-American poet who doesn’t care much about activism. He was born in Bangladesh and raised in Islamabad and moved to tue United States in 1991. He wants his poetry to paint a more accurate picture of the world. He teaches in Colorado. I read a verse about mourning and a horse:

Mourning and Other Activities
You take faith and a horse –
Reasonably Arab looking one – feed him
Rusgullas and milk for a year.
While you fatten him you terrorize him
With different Asiatic techniques
Into mildness and meekness.

Then you take a procession or
Two out in the month of June
With the horse leading
Properly bedecked with buntings and ribbons.
You mourn and cry your heart out in the heat,
And those of us who have faith
Then crawl under the belly of the horse
Whenever it comes to a stop.

And between the four brown hooves
Take refuge from the sun.

Going on living after the process of mourning requires faith in the harsh environment of the Hindu Kush, where I imagine the equestrian to be. This poem describes a mourning ritual that is strange to the western reader’s ear. Yet, we understand. We’ve seen movies and remember Leo diCaprio sleeping inside the horse in the Revenant.

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