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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