Poet’s note:
ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥ ਜਪੁ ॥ ਆਦਿਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿਸਚੁ ਹੈਭੀਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀਭੀਸਚੁ॥੧॥

Ik Onkar Satnam Karta Purakh Nirbhao Nirvair Akaal Moorat Ajooni Saibhang Gurprasad ॥ Jap ॥ Aadh sach Jugaadh sach Hai bhee sach Nanak hosee bhee sach ॥1॥

Mool Mantra is the first composition in the Guru Granth Saheb and is repeated over 100 times through the text of the holy book of the Sikhs. I dedicate this to the sound of a prayer I have heard throughout my growing years – not in a forced ‘prayer time’ way but in a subtle background music way. This is the sound that helped me through moments of personal crisis, search, coping with personal identity and coping with death that shrunk relationships and souls within and around me for many years.

This is the sound that I would like to offer to the world amidst these troubling times. We, collectively and individually are unprepared. Unprepared to handle our vulnerabilities, distance or proximity, instructions or disorganized dissonance. Our political environments, global uncertainty and an unfolding pandemic are just exposing these facts.

In these times of uncertainty and emptiness, cultivating thoughts of mercy enable us to pause. They help us engage in healing rituals. Together, alone and as communities, we are more in need of mercy today than ever before in the history of humanity.

Mercy is a poet
patient with the need for practice
keeping music afloat as we learn to absorb
syllable by syllable
discovering faith in every nuance of its sound

Mercy is a poem
unfolding itself into an extraordinariness
gaining momentum and fortitude
sensing space, creating largeness
within and without

Mercy is a poet
inhaling admiration in the aroma of caramelized flour
exhaling adoration assembled in turbaned scarves
inhaling shame crouching in blind alleys
exhaling battlefields
inhaling solitude
exhaling pretence

Mercy is a poem
my grandma muttered in robotic submission every night
the same mantra became gratitude when hummed by my mother
and became a war cry when chanted aloud by my father
remained ever my recruit, at my command, my guide

Mercy is a poet
that inscribed its words into the corners of my children’s existence
nudging into them at corners, resonating them to their roots
and shredded repetitively into me a breeze of cinnamon
tints of dusky curling hope

Mercy is a poem
that has a hum, lingering like a silent whisper
on the tip of my possessed tongue
affirmations thawing themselves into my heart
bathing me with relevance
sieving the cooling melody from coiling noise

Kashiana Singh is a management professional by job classification and a work practitioner by personal preference. Kashiana’s TEDx talk was dedicated to Work as Worship. Her poetry collection, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words presents her voice as a participant and an observer. She is from India, now lives in Chicago. She is a regular contributor to different poetry platforms. She is in the process of gathering her second collection of poems.