Monday Poem: ‘How to be Happy in 101 Days’ by Tishani Doshi

Source: Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods

Adore stone. Learn to manoeuvre
against the heat of things. Should
you see butterflies gambol in the air,
resist the urge to pinch their wings.
Look for utilitarian values of violence.
Use the knife lustily: to peel the mango’s
jealous skin, to wean bark and cut bread
for the unending hunger of stray dogs.
Renounce your house. Take just one
object with you. Slip it in your pocket.
Marvel at how a simple thing can
connect the variegated skeins of time.
On the 99th day, you must surrender
this object, but until then feel free
to attach sentiment to it. Find a forest
to disappear in. Look for thirst-quenching
plants. Rub the smooth globes of their roots
in our palms before biting in to their hearts.
Lean backwards and listen to the slippery
bastard of your own arrhythmic heart.
Remind yourself that you feel pain,
therefore you must be alive. Stain
your fingers with ink. Set out into
the world and prepare to be horrified.
Do not close your eyes. Catch a fish.
Smash its head and watch the life gasp
out of it. Spit the bones into sand.
Offer your bones to someone.
Clavicles are the chief seducers
of the human body. When you hear
the snap, allow yourself a shudder.
Find a tree to hold all the faces
of your dead—their hair, their rings.
Hang their solemn portraits from branches.
If you cannot find happiness in death
you will not complete the course.
Give your child to a stranger.
If you are childless, offer the person
you love best. Do not ask about possible
ways of mistreatment. Trust it will be terrible.
Climb a mountain. Feel how much larger
the world is when you’re alone.
Try to find words or images
to explain your loss. Give up. Stand on your head.
Grow dizzy on your own blood.
Spend the night in the cemetery.
Keep still and listen to the dead chortle.
Tattoo your face. Do not bother with the stars.
They are for romantics (who are not happy
people). Learn to steer through darkness.
If you’re attacked, spread your legs and say,
Brother, why are you doing this to me?
​​​​​​When you approach a crossing in the woods,
take the one instinct tells you to take.
When you are knee-deep in mud, turn
around and try the other path in order
to understand how little you know
of yourself. In a few days you’ll be ready
for the sublime. Before that, meditate
in a cave. If a tigress finds you, offer her
the meat of your thighs, give her cubs
your breasts. If tigers are already extinct,
wait for some other hairy, hungry creature
to accost you. It will happen.
It is important for you to lose both
body and mind. Dig a hole in the earth
with your hands. Place your treasured
object in it and thrill at how little
it means to let it go. On the 101st
day, search out a mirror. Strip
away your clothes. Inch up to
your reflection. Much of the success
of this course will depend on what you see.

Tishani Doshi, “How to be Happy in 101 Days” from Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods. Copyright © 2017 by Tishani Doshi. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press,
Source: Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods

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