Ramadan Day 17

On Day 7 of Ramadan, I included my thoughts on Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman verdict.  My friend Stacie responded, and I continue to be touched by her protest of what happens, is happening, in this country.  I am awed by her compassion.

In the heart of one human being can be held all the joys and the grief of our history.  I believe this.  Do you?

http://girlgriot.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/in-the-wake/#comments

I don’t know what day of Ramadan this is anymore because I have sunk into a deep unhappiness here in Barcelona, an isolation and solitude so profound it scares me and shocks me.  I don’t know if I have the courage to do whatever it is I need to do to make this vacation truly healing and relaxing for me.  I have not yet seen Barcelona yet and am frustrated to the bone about this simple fact, 4 days into my journey, sitting in a beautiful villa surrounded by vineyards.

I wonder if I am the same person who left New York City to come here, who left California to go to New York City.  I don’t feel like the same person who came to this city in 1997 backpacking in Europe with a group of friends.  The latter I doubt.  The former rouses my suspicion.

My feelings sit heavily upon me.  Perhaps, after all, they are a crown, and change may be the best thing yet.

Perhaps now is the time to return to the fast.

The other day, alone in the villa here in Torelles de Foix, I hiked for about 45 minutes by myself.  Through the green green kava vines, both lush and dry, speaking to me of something civilized.  And in the dirt?  Something wild.  I heard the clanging of bells.  It belonged to a herd of sheep.  Watching them run, knowing that someone was watching over them, has been my happiest moment here.

Ramadan Day 13

Invictus

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

 

– by William Ernest Henley

 

Ramadan Day 13

 

Today, I stop fasting for at least the next few days, possibly the next two weeks.  The Qur’an provides that we do not need to fast when we travel.  We can make it up.

I am traveling to Barcelona with two friends.  I am so fortunate to be able to go because I have generous friends.  I find myself deeply concerned with stopping my fast.

This year my fasting has been more intentionally militant because of what happened shortly after my unsuccessful fast last year.  I was moving to the East Coast, and I was not taking care of my body, so I became sick twice in the beginning of the fast and had to stop, and then I started driving across the country and had to stop.  I was mean and irritable and all around a terrible person during that journey.

When I lost my sense of safety and place and home to Hurricane Sandy, a part of me believed God was punishing me for the ways in which I failed to complete the fast.  Wrong thinking, I know.  Yet it was one of the many ways in which I internalized the storm and the subsequent devastation of my life.

I can choose not to internalize the storm.

Nearly two weeks ago somebody said to me that I should not think that by stopping my fast, I failed.  Did I not learn something from it?  Did I not arrive at Ramadan this year with new purpose?  In Kazim Ali’s Fasting for Ramadan, he mentioned that Ramadan was like a yardstick by which he could measure each year.  (paraphrase).  There is a familiarity to Ramadan that comforts me.  A repetition.

My friend shared with me today about her grandmother, a Sufi Muslim from Iran.  It is a story that brings to mind the true faith.  Her grandmother was deeply religious, a spiritual woman.  She continued to fast even when her body could not accommodate it, modifying, drinking water, etc.  She fasted by being mindful of Ramadan.  She was mindful of what she ate and drank.  She gave to others.  She was present.  She prayed.

Today I am especially mindful of my weaknesses because I had a very rough day.  I performed the ritual of self-loathing.  This feels hard to say, but I say it because I am not alone in this practice.

Here is how one version can look:  I do the work, but I realize that nobody can see it.  I tell myself that I know what love is, but I am treated poorly by someone who loves me.  I try to be amazing, and I try to be perfect because I think that is the only way anyone will ever love me completely, mind, body, and soul.  I think love is something that can be won.  I am ashamed that I am not good enough.  I want to give up my life because I was doing a wretched job with it.  I sink to the floor.  My tears say out loud what I am too alone and afraid to tell anyone – I don’t deserve my own life.

I am not alone.  I am like everybody else.  It is a sign of my humanity that I have had this experience.

I was asked once:  what does it mean to be a queer woman of color?  Part of what it means is that you may suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  We carry with us not only our own suffering, but also the suffering of people before us.  It seems strange that our bodies, hearts, and minds can remember a pain that was not visited upon us directly.  It seems strange to be born carrying a burden etched into our bodies, inscribed into our future.

We can heal from this memory pain by finding the source of the pain and addressing it.

Forgiveness and love are abilities.

This is the alchemy of the forgiver.  A great doctor once framed it like this:  if you can learn, even once, to forgive yourself for something you have done, then you will never forget how to do it.  You will be able to forgive yourself, again, and again.  You will never stop forgiving.

We are not inherently one way.  We don’t have to be weak people, or bad people, or fearful people.  We can change.  When we do bad things.  When we think dark thoughts.  It does not mean that we are bad people.

I will wake up tomorrow morning, and I will no longer be giving up food and water.  So it is even more important that I continue to fast.  I can fast by loving and forgiving everyone in my life who has done me wrong.  I can start with myself.  I can fast by being mindful of everything I put in my body.  I can fast by performing acts of service to the poor, or giving money to those who need it more.  I can fast by meditating.  I can fast by giving attention to my thoughts.  I can fast by breathing in the morning, by moving slowly, by not reacting.  I am present.  I can fast.

What will it mean for me to continue to fast in these ways?

Fasting for Ramadan is the prayer I make by living.

 

There is more than one way to starve.

– Sherman Alexie, Indian Education

 

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty

and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

 

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

– Rumi, trans. by Coleman Barks

Ramadan Day 12

RAMADAN DAY 12

 

 

There is no morning,

but this morning.

I am present.

I am fasting.

 

 

 

THE GUEST HOUSE

 

This being human is a guest house.

every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

 

-Rumi, trans. by Coleman Barks

Ramadan Day 11

– For my Father too

 

THE SPEED OF BELIEF

By Tracy K. Smith

 

                                             –  In memoriam, Floyd William Smith 1935-2008

 

I didn’t want to wait on my knees

In a room made quiet by waiting.

 

A room where we’d listen for the rise

Of breath, the burble in his throat.

 

I didn’t want the orchids or the trays

Of food meant to fortify that silence,

 

Or to pray for him to stay or to go then

Finally toward that ecstatic light.

 

I didn’t want to believe

What we believe in those rooms:

 

That we are blessed, letting go,

Letting someone, anyone,

 

Drag open the drapes and heave us

Back into our blinding, bright lives.

 

 

RAMADAN DAY 11

 

Hafiz said to me, The Subject Tonight is Love.  He screamed this into both my ears as I was sleeping.  I startled out of bed like a child in a fire drill.

He rolls around the bed laughing, tells me that he knows of plenty of other ways to make writing at 3 in the morning, so much fun.

 

Three weeks ago I turned to my brother and asked him, do you remember what we did when we went home from the hospital, after dad died?

 

I wanted to share a poem that is very special to me.  I speak it only for special occasions.

 

It was first given to me by a woman who loved me so fiercely, with so much joy and such inexplicable divinity, that her shape is burned into my palm.  She vanished the rest of herself in smoke.  That year, I did too.  Through her, Allah first appeared.

 

Will I spend the rest of my days scanning the sky, looking for traces of what survived?

 

I knew instantly this poem was about the two of us.  She said, this is not a poem about romantic love.  What is it a poem about?

 

I looked into Allah’s eyes in Rumi’s Field and played between the ghosts that Maxine Hong Kingston once summoned.

 

The first poem I ever memorized was a Chinese poem by Li Bai.

No matter how far apart we are, it is the same moon.

I don’t know the words, only the rise and fall of its sound.

 

I read this poem the O’Husain’s dholki this poem bloomed again because she and Saifan did not forget to water the verses, even though I was too busy.  Did you know that poems die if you do not take them out and talk to them, water them, give them light?  I didn’t.

 

Yesterday the world stretched its beautiful hands out to the Don, and he felt it.  I watched his eyes fill with poetry.

 

A wise man told me today that he was not surprised I enjoy Ramadan – I have never lived a life without overcoming, without oppositional force.  I have never just been happy.

 

For all the times I sighed with relief that my heart was broken because it meant that I had healed, and then cried myself to sleep and was too tired to dream, and then cried in the shower, and then went about my day.

 

For all the times I was angry because I still am, angry.

 

For the joy and fear of wanting to read this poem to you before you disappear in the rain.

 

For the appearance of an umbrella when you need it most.

 

For taking hold of the curve even though you are already soaked through.

 

For my friends who do not know where they are but write to me from there.

 

When I was a child I wanted to die because the whole world hurt my eyes.  The only thing that saved me was that I refused to leave my family behind.

I shout to God.

 

For the kindness of strangers and friends, and those who were both, when I was knocked onto a new path by shame, by depression, by disaster.

 

For all the times I could not forgive until someone showed me compassion.

 

For all the times I failed, and you took my hand.

 

We looked up at the stars.

 

In joy.

 

 

The Truelove

By David Whyte

 

There is a faith in loving fiercely

the one who is rightfully yours

especially if you have

waited years and especially

if part of you never believed

you could deserve this

loved and beckoning hand

held out to you this way.

 

I am thinking of faith now

and the testaments of loneliness

and what we feel we are

worthy of in this world.

 

Years ago in the Hebrides

I remember an old man

who walked every morning

on the grey stones

to the shore of baying seals

 

who would press his hat

to his chest in the blustering

salt wind and say his prayer

to the turbulent Jesus

hidden in the water

 

and I think of the story

of the storm and everyone

waking and seeing

the distant

yet familiar figure

far across the water

calling to them

 

and how we are all

preparing for that

abrupt waking,

and that calling,

and that moment

we have to say yes,

except it will

not come so grandly

so Biblically

but more subtly

and intimately in the face

of the one you know

you have to love

 

so that when

we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and everything confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all this struggle

and all these years

you don’t want to any more

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness

however fluid and however

dangerous to take the

one hand you know

belongs in yours.

Ramadan Day 10

WHEN THE VIOLIN

When

The violin

Can forgive the past

It starts singing.

When the violin can stop worrying

About the future

You will become

Such a drunk laughing nuisance

That God

Will then lean down

And start combing you into

His

Hair.

When the violin can forgive

Every wound caused by

Others

The heart starts

Singing.

Hafiz, trans. by Daniel Ladinsky

RAMADAN DAY 10

 

What is the difference between a poet and an Imam?

 

What is the difference between looking outside and looking within?

 

What is the difference between isolation and solitude?

This morning I wish to be in conversation with several people.  For one — my mother keeps asking me if Ramadan is over because she does not like that I observe it.  She thinks that it is unhealthy.  I can understand her perspective, but I don’t share it.  Every year, it is the same.  If I tell her about it directly, usually between day five and day seven, she asks me if it’s over.  This year she sent me an e-mail saying she is so glad it’s over.  That was yesterday.  I love my mom, and I can say without irony that this is a sign she cares about me.

For two – I was lucky enough to break/open my fast again with the Don.  As such treats often are, it was a last minute thing after we both had other plans fall away.  The Don told me a story about how his courageous act of coming out inspired another young man to do so as well.  As he looked into my eyes with so much humility and gratitude toward this person for reaching out to him, I realized that between us lay the painful acknowledgment of our own fears.  We cast our eyes down out of respect for our families when they have not respected us.  When we love one another, we create mirrors.  We give up our shame when we see the courage of our reflection looking into our eyes.

I have been strangling in the vines of my own anger.  Fortunately, it is Ramadan, and I am quieter than usual.  I don’t want to startle the birds.

The Don tells me to look for a sign.

I thumb through my day backward.  My sister, drawing on an inside joke, and telling me to flip a coin to make a tough decision.  A difficult conversation resulting in a difficult truth.  Sitting in the library reviewing books on Muslims and Spain when I should have been writing a short story.  Hmmm…what sign?

Immediately, we start discussing a blog.  The title of this reflection was The Worst Ramadan Ever.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-khalid-latif/ramadan-reflection-day-8_b_3605668.html

It must be a sign!  After all, I had been reading this post earlier in the day.  I was so happy to be reminded of it.  I vowed that I would write about connecting to people.

Instead, a friend calls me and in the course of the conversation acknowledges his own isolation.  This is my language, not his.  When he says it, I immediately think what can I do to help?  I wish I could live my whole life with that being the first thought.  But, usually, it’s how do I get out of here?

Ramadan deepens my empathy.  We are, all of us, so lonely.  We tell ourselves that we are being strong by not bothering people with our problems, or because we are taking care of it ourselves, or because nobody needs to know.  We let our image of who we want to be obscure the truth about who we are.

We do not reach out to people for various reasons.  Here are some of my favorite ones (circle all that apply):

–       I am too busy.

–       They are too busy.

–       They will tell me their problems.

–       They won’t listen to mine.

–       They won’t get real with me.

–       They have other friends.

–       I am too tired to listen.

–       I am too angry to listen.

–       I am too sad to listen.

–       I’ll call later.

–       I’ve got some problems.

 

If you circled even one, do not pass go, and do not skip to the end of this blog.

If you circled none, skip ahead to enlightenment.

My favorite thing about this list is that its components are not permanent conditions.  They are mutable, which means that we have to also acknowledge them.

We are not perfect — our conversations may veer.  That is ok.  With calling, like anything else.  Don’t be afraid to stop or start.  Don’t wait for perfection.  Merely by making ourselves available for a moment to someone dear to us, or even a stranger.  Checking-in.  Asking how someone is doing.  Or, even doing nothing (in a manner) but sending love in your prayer.  The intent is felt.

How is it that an activity that transports me to a place inside myself improves my life outside of it?

I am less lonely when I know how to listen.

I am more and more reluctant to give my sorrow, my pain to anybody else, especially if I have not yet given it to myself.

I carry these difficult fish in bucket after bucket to Allah who returns them to me as tears.

The Don is right.  I can’t wait to see the signs.  First, I am going to close my eyes, and kneel.

 

 

Night, for Henry Dumas

By Aracelis Girmay

Henry Dumas, 1934-1968

did not die by a spaceship

or flying saucer or outer space at all

but was shot down, at 33,

by a New York City Transit policeman

will be shot down, May 23rd,

coming home, in just 6 days, by a New York City Transit

policeman

in the subway station singing & thinking of a poem,

what he’s about to eat, will be, was, is right now

shot down, this sad conjugation,

happening yesterday, happened tomorrow,

will happen now

under the ground & above the ground

at Lenox & 125th in Harlem, Tennessee,

Memphis, New York, Watts, Queens.

1157 Wheeler Avenue, San Quentin, above which

sky swings down a giant rope, says

Climb me into heaven, or follow me home,

& Henry

& Amadou

& Malcolm

& Oscar

& Sean

& King,

& the night hangs over the men & their faces,

& the night grows thick above the streets,

I swear it is more blue, more black, tonight

with the men going up there.

Bring the children out

to see who their uncles are.

Ramadan Day 9

Watching the Waterfall at Lu Mountain

Li Bai, trans. by Chou Ping, Willis Barnstone, and Tony Barnstone

Sunlight streams off purple mist from Incense Peak.

Far off, the waterfall is a long hanging river

Flying straight down three thousand feet

Like the milky river of stars pouring from heaven.

 

 

RAMADAN 9

The trouble I’m having with fasting is the same trouble I’m having with being human.

           The trouble I’m having with fasting is the same trouble I have with being human. 

One of these is something I’m going through, a current problem.  The other implies that I have a more permanent state of trouble, a possession of the singular, trouble.  There’s a flavor of ownership to the second statement, and an earnestness to the first.

With sentences, I don’t know which is which sometimes.  While I am fasting, when I hear words, I often jumble them all up in my head.  There’s a distortion effect.  I am underwater listening.  I’m straining to perceive, but it’s not always clear.

It bothers me that I don’t know which sentence I mean.  I am not debating the finer points of grammar.  I am asking a legitimate question about what endures in my life.

During Ramadan, other people, including myself in previous posts, have been rather filled with the spirit of piousness.  I was told that Allah gave Ramadan to the people in part so that we may become pious.

For two days of the fast now, I have battled a scorching anger.  There is nothing pious about it.  I am like a five year old with really big feet stomping around the room.  I wish it were not so.  I have the perception that an injustice is being done to me.  I feel pressured to do something, to spend money, so that I can be part of a group I feel I did not choose.  I feel tricked.  There have been moments when I am so indignant that I want to speak my anger.  I blame myself.

Last night, I had the joy of opening fast with Roopa, Ely, and Jessica.  As we threw back water and food, I heard Roopa say, If you have to say it, you don’t have to say it.  We laughed at this moment, but I squirreled the wisdom nut away to my nest.  Safe in the tree, later in the morning, I’m using my teeth to crack it open.

I don’t know how to let go of whatever it is I have to say.  I know that saying something will make me feel better, if I come to it the right way, without expectation.  I’d like to be able to wait until I could transcend and be in a better place, a safer place, before I act.  The need and desire for action, however, transcends caution.  I keep looking to the sky and asking for the superpower of being laid back.

To me, the question of saying anything at all veers straight into the years I have worked finding my speakerboxxx.  I never feel like I can afford to give up the gift that empowered me.  I worked hard and asked lots of questions to be able to speak.  To employ words for a cause.

Words are never enough.  There is an entire well underneath our bodies.  It pulsates with feelings.  We would be thoroughly scared if we were to put our bucket down and raise up some of this shining material.  Most of us do not know how to access it.  When we do, it runs through our system like a charge.  What comes out may be something you don’t recognize.  Poets wink at us when this happens.

Once in a play of petty and trivial proportions, a woman I barely knew in Los Angeles spread dull-witted, but malicious, rumors to divide me from my own friends.  She was new to the area, and the man she was dating was a close-knit member of my existing social circle.  He knew that I bore witness to his cheating and perceived me as a competitor in his life.  She was embarrassed about how she ended up hooking up with him.  I’m sure that doesn’t sum up their motivations and feelings, but it’s the best I’ve got.  One thing led to another, and I suffered the disappointing realization that not everyone I considered a friend was actually such.  Some people believed this couple’s rumors.  Others simply participated in their games.

Years later, I’ve even come to thank this power couple for showing me what’s what.  One could say I moved on.

Nearly three years after all the drama I moved, and a new friend brought up the name of the woman who’d moved to Los Angeles.  She was gushing about how wonderful this person was.  I opened my mouth to laugh it off.  I found that I could not.  I got hot.  Really hot.  I didn’t say anything.  I simply left the room because I didn’t have anything nice to say.

Believe me when I say that’s a drastic improvement on the heat I would have unloaded when confronted with the same situation a year ago.

What strikes me as remarkable, however, is my inability to genuinely forgive, despite the understanding I have achieved about what happened.  That understanding makes me feel pious.  However, the grace it would take to truly forgive has skipped me.  It sucks to be in a new place and experience the swelling of an old pain.

But we’ve all been there:  the place where we are simply unable to move past our hurt, despite our intellectualizations, despite our perceptions.

And even despite our wisdom.

During Ramadan, as I fast, I feel my self expand, as if I was flying through the ether, through Allah.  I have such love for the places that Ramadan brings me.  I choose to describe it like this:  it’s not that I no longer care, or that I have transcended my petty feelings.  It is that in the morning, during prayer or poem-writing, that in the daytime, with all the pixels of hunger and thirst arcing toward my life, I don’t have as much to say.

I aim to have a conversation that feels impossible and difficult soon.  When my forehead touched the ground this morning, I prayed that I would not say any of the things I absolutely have to say.

Peace.

 

Memory

By Pablo Neruda, trans. by Alastair Reid

 

I have to remember everything,

keep track of blades of grass, the threads

of all untidy happenings,

the resting places, inch by inch,

the infinite railroad tracks,

the surfaces of pain.

 

If I were to misplace one rosebud

and confuse night with a hare,

or even if one whole wall

of my memory were to disintegrate

I am obliged to make over the air,

steam, earth, leaves,

hair, even the bricks,

the thorns which pierced me,

the speed of flight.

 

Be gentle with the poet.

 

I was always quick to forget,

and those hands of mine,

could only grasp intangibles,

untouchable things

which could only be compared

when they no longer existed.

 

The smoke was an aroma,

the aroma something like smoke,

The skin of a sleeping body

which came to life with my kisses;

but don’t ask me the date

or the name of what I dreamed—

nor can I measure the road

which may have no country

or that truth that changed

or perhaps turned off by day

to become a wandering light,

a firefly in the dark.

Ramadan Day 8

DROPPING KEYS

The small man

Builds cages for everyone

He

Knows.

While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the

Beautiful

Rowdy

Prisoners.

-Hafiz, trans. by Daniel Ladinsky

Ramadan Day 8

Most of today I felt close to my suffering.  It was the first day of fasting that I was afforded the luxury of not leaving my room for the fast.  I entered the portal of the Internet and for hours I did not return to my body.  When I did, I noticed an ache in the pit of my stomach and the crackling of my lips.  I left again.  I worried about the disappearance of my presence.  I decorated my blank beige walls with my insecurities.  I watched True Blood and read a mystery novel.

I chuckled to myself that I inadvertently used my brother-in-law’s account to ship him several cell phone cases.  My sister chastised me and wrote me the following:

[From now on, I’m going to gather everything you and Justin accidentally leave at my house and put them in a treasure chest.  When you guys come back to visit you may reclaim one (1) item.  It will be like going to the dentist.  Yay!]

We have a family contest as to who is the funniest sibling.  There is no consensus as to the winner.

What seems random pokes holes into my theory of life — the very theory I was once able to reproduce on two square napkins.  I could not read my own handwriting.

I had a question as to whether a more meaningful fast here in New York City would involve giving up air conditioning rather than food and drink.  The mosquitoes are secretly sweltering and angrier for it.  The cool air of my room is on life support.  I meant to ask the faithful fasters with whom I had Iftar later in the evening about loss, but I forgot.

I feel light-headed tonight thinking of the connections I made – to others and within myself.

There was a man who finds solace in fasting, and who contemplates what it means to fast without traditional prayer.  This man shared with me that he is told by strangers that they know he is Muslim, and that he fasts.  His faith pours from him like a fountain.  When you drink, you start to see impossible things.

He is me.

My brother sits across the table from me eating honeyed toast.  He finds his voice.  He admits how afraid he is of me, for me, whenever I walk down the long staircase.   He is scared that I will keep walking and never return.  He will not be able to visit me.

He is me.

There was my home walking around in the shape of the Don soon to return to his homeland.  I think he wants to ask Allah this question:  must every hello now sound like goodbye?  I tell him to always say hello first.

He is me.

My thoughts are swirling in the glass, and I wonder if God is drinking them down.  I wonder about the quality of my vintage.

I am startled at what passes through the silence and into the world.

There are a few lessons I learned from a coiffed woman who is one of my fiercest and proudest friends.  She is one of my branches in the torrential rain, fused together from the ways in which people forget and then remember to say, I love you.  Debbie, my yoda, I am harvesting the crops you’ve sowed:

–       Take 100% responsibility for your relationships.

–       You are a person of faith.

–       We’ll find out if you can love when you do.

At about 6PM – the worst part of the day is the last part of the fast – I cast my thoughts above my head like an hourglass hovering above my body.  I turned it upside down and right side up and felt the sand sifting through my life.  It found all the particles were oddly-shaped.

When you have a goodbye party, the best part is the stranger that attends.  Their connection to you seems to indicate the corner of the map which was hidden from you before you found the treasure.

Allah drew a line in this world

You were on one side

I was on another

During Ramadan

we lay our bodies down

One on each

side, holding hands

I am convinced that the mosquitoes are out to get me.  I am not a paranoid person.  Raise your hand before you draw a conclusion.

One subject of particular concern for Sufi mystics is the mirror.  I have been looking for a long time at you.  Your eyes are a pool.  Tomorrow, I go diving.

Where are you my Friend?  There was a time in my life when all my metaphors were literal.  When every time I asked you how you were doing it was because I was afraid to say I miss you.

Debbie once said that my silence was powerful.

During Ramadan, everything is listening and absorbing.

She is about to speak.

Ninth Day

From Kazim Ali’s Fasting for Ramadan

The elephant-ears did not do well when I left for a

weekend without watering them.

 

Now with water and a space by the window the

plant is recovering but it has been many days since

I’ve seen the little drop of water on the leaf-tip as

before.

 

The morning is like vapor. Various tasks and chores

during the day, so this is the moment I can pause in

time.

 

My mind always goes back to the Shadyside house,

to the comfort of returning from a day of work at

the office, going for a run in the country, returning

home to sit on the deck, drunk on the afternoon,

drinking green tea and eating toast and honey,

watching the sunset.

 

That was exactly when where I came into poetry

and reached toward my future life.

 

Loneliness as hard as the bones under my skin.

 

Silence in the night—crickets and afterthoughts.

 

Each morning I am up early enough to look at the

moon, now waning, and the morning star.

 

There is no name for the thick crepuscular blue.

 

How solid and tactile a sky can appear.

 

My book of sentences, the story of my life, now at

the threshold.

 

A friends says I should wait to publish it.

 

These are sentences I barely pronounced.

 

If you see truly through a fast, feel you have stripped

some essential thing between you and the world away,

is it possible then that you are also as seen, as bare to

other people around you.

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