Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?
Every child has known god,
not the god of names,
not the god of don’t,
not the god who does anything
but the god who only knows four words
and keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me."
Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the centre
of whatever everything is. And we don’t see it.
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That’s what weight is, that communal process of falling.
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,
hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that’s what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on another’s heart.
Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching
against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the centre of whatever the suspected
centre is, or might have been.
© Peterloo Poets, 1995
Those doing soul work, who want the searing truth more than solace or applause, know each other right away.
Those who want something else turn and take a seat in another room.Soul-makers find each other’s company.
—Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
When the soul is naughted and transformed ... she is so full of peace that though she press her flesh, her nerves, her bones, no other thing comes forth from them than peace.
–Saint Catherine of Genoa
into every cup,
quenching darkness.The proudly piousstuff their cups with parchmentand critique the taste of inkwhile God pours lightand the trees lift their limbswithout worry of redemption,every blossom a chalice.Hafiz, seduce those withered soulswith words that wet their parched lipsas lightpours like raininto every empty cupset adrift on the Infinite Ocean.
Is anyone there
are you real
either way are you
one or several
if the latter
are you all at once
or do you
take turns not answering
is your answer
the question itself
surviving the asking
whose question is it
how does it begin
where does it come from
how did it ever
find out about you
over the sound
with nothing but its own
ignorance to go by
–W. S. Merwin
love is more thicker than forgetmore thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fall
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
–E. E. Cummings
When the heavens and the earth
are snapped away like a painted shade,
and every creature called to account,
please forgive me my head
full of chickpeas, garlic, and parsley.
I am in love with the lemon
on the counter, and the warmth
of my brother' s shoulder distracted me
when we stood to pray.
The imam took us over
for the first prostration,
but I kept one ear cocked
for the cry of the kitchen timer,
thrilled to realize today's cornbread
could become tomorrow's stuffing.
This thrift may buy me ten warm minutes
in bed tomorrow, before the singer
climbs the minaret in the dark,
to wake me to the work
of thought, word, deed.
I have so little time to finish (only I
know how to turn the dish, so the first taste
makes my brother's eyes open wide) -
forgive me, this pleasure
seems more urgent than the prayer -
I take refuge in You
from the inextricable mischief
of every thing You made,
eggs, milk, cinnamon, kisses, sleep.
The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
It is like a prayer to what is empty.And what is empty turns its face to us and whispers:
“I am not empty, I am open.”
Robert Bly translation
I am, O Anxious One. Don't you hear my voicesurging forth with all my earthly feelings?
They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wingsand whitely fly in circles round your face.My soul, dressed in silence, rises upand stands alone before you: can't you see?don't you know that my prayer is growing ripeupon your vision as upon a tree?If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.But when you want to wake, I am your wish,and I grow strong with all magnificenceand turn myself into a star's vast silenceabove the strange and distant city, Time.–Rainer Maria Rilke
The birds don't alter space.
They reveal it. The sky
never fills with any
leftover flying. They leave
nothing to trace. It is our own
in chill air. Be glad.They equal their due
moment never begging,
and enter ours
without parting day. See
how three birds in a winter tree
make the tree barer.Two fly away, and new rooms
open in December.
Give up what you guessed
about a whirring heart, the little
beaks and claws, their constant hunger.
We're the nervous ones.If even one of our violent number
could be gentle
long enough that one of them
found it safe inside
our finally untroubled and untroubling gaze,
who wouldn't hear
what singing completes us?
Book of My Nights
I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough to make every minute holy. I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough just to lie before you like a thing, shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will, as it goes toward action, and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times when something is coming near, I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body, and I never want to be blind, or to be too old to hold up your old and swaying picture. I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie. And I want my grasp of things true before you. I want to describe myself like a painting that I looked at closely for a long time, like a saying that I finally understood, like the pitcher I use every day, like the face of my mother, like a ship that took me safely through the wildest storm of all.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Robert Bly translation