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July 27, 2021

The Saint’s Serene Cure, by Debasish Mishra



Editor’s note: The idea that the saint in this poem is probably not that saintly intrigued me, as did the message that people want to believe that someone they revere is good, no matter the cost. It’s a different kind of poem for EC, and I think you’ll find it thought provoking. (Kate)

Patients thronged in long queues

dreaming to defer their death

one by one they took out their shoes

and entered to buy some breath


Some trepidation,some agitation,

and the usual yells of pain

and the wishes made in devotion

maybe not to visit again

“'Why do you need a doctor

when prayers can heal every sore,”

the saint would say like an actor,

“I have with me every cure.”


“Just close your eyes,” he'd tell,

and splash some ash on the brow

or ring his old rusted bell 

to draw milk from a cement cow


He had some sleight of hand

some tricks to gather belief

to make an apple from sand

or find a rose in a leaf 


That was enough for the crowd

to travel miles and come

to the saint and chant aloud

his name like puppets dumb


Even when a patient died

it little affected their clan

“Our saint had truly tried,”

they said, “Twas God's plan.”


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Bio: Debasish Mishra has co-edited an international anthology of poetry entitled Timeless Love. His recent poems have been published in North Dakota Quarterly, Penumbra, Star*Line, and elsewhere. A former banker, he is currently pursuing his PhD at NISER, India.


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Image by Ramez E. Nassif.


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