Two Poems by Nay Dhanak

hymn / her
Title from Jordaan Mason & The Horse Museum

i never understood piety,
palms pressed together,
forehead pinched, a new
name for the same grief.
leave your idols at the door
for no labour is lost on your lover,
calloused fingers and cold
feet not fit for stained glass
but for running through 
the low grass, muddied in
body and crystal in faith.

i never understood scripture,
fidelity a suitor to form,
heart’s fire folded again
and again with the soft break
of each line. standing under the
midsummer sun, i am unbelieving
if not for the softness of
morning falling on these florets,
opening up to face light.
some seconds are saintly
and some words sanctified. 

i understand tenderness and
touch, they, in the same stroke as
teachings, them.
if it is blasphemy to compare
your lover to your lord,
i open my pressed palms and 
reclaim dirt-touched hands 
as the earth’s and the angel’s, theirs.
i leave my idols at the door,
the devil and the deity.
no worship of mine leaves

the wanting, i am sated and my sweet 
hymns sound, still, theirs.


the colour orange as something other than flame
it’s not red-orange anymore, is what i’m saying. that seems 
too blinding. i suppose it’s true that i welcome 
the quieter things, now. a softer hue. i’ll open the door to 
something i can rest my hands on without fear of red-mottled skin.
can i rest? i have had enough of extremities; sanguine and sweet
as they often are, it holds to the time and never after. i suppose 
the difference is that the coloured moments after kissing you feel —
aflutter. better each time. better not timed. it’s been minutes
or maybe an hour, and months or maybe a year, and every time 
i awake i think of steadier, softer ways to touch your face. 
apricot-mouth, dim-lit tangerine dream — if there is anything outside
of this and here, i would be happy enough to leave it waiting. 
i’ll follow the curve of your back with my fingers and that will be how 
i count time, how i know when orange light might rise over the night.


Nay Dhanak uses they/them pronouns.