When the nightsky pours by it’s really a crowd of beggars and they all want some of this …
Who is luckiest in this whole orchestra? The reed.
Its mouth touches your lips to learn music.
All reeds, sugarcane especially, think only
of this chance. They sway in the canebrake,
free in the many ways they dance.
Without you the instruments would die.
One sits close beside you. Another takes a long kiss.
The tambourine begs, Touch my skin so I can be myself.
Let me feel you enter each limb bone by bone,
that what died last night can be whole today.
Why live some soberer way and feel you ebbing out?
I won’t do it.
Either give me enough wine or leave me alone,
now that I know how it is
to be with you in a constant conversation.
— Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?
How did Jacob’s sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us
— Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Moses heard a shepherd on the road, praying, “God, where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk to kiss your little hands and feet when it’s time for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats are yours. All I can say, remembering you, is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhhh.”
Moses could stand it no longer: “Who are you talking to?“
The shepherd replied: “The one who made us, and made the earth and made the sky.”
“Don’t talk about shoes and socks with God! And what’s this with your little hands and feet? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like you’re chatting with your aunts. Only something that grows needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes. Even if you meant God’s human representatives, as when God said, `I was sick, and you did not visit me,’ even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent. Body-and-birth language are right for us on this side of the river, but not for addressing the origin, not for Allah.”
The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed and wandered out into the desert.
And then, suddenly, a revelation came to Moses. The Friend’s voice:
`You have separated me from one of my own. Did you come as a Prophet to unite, or to sever? I have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing and knowing that knowledge. What seems wrong to you is right for him. What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship, these mean nothing to me. I am apart from all that.
`Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better or worse than one another. It’s all praise, and it’s all right.
`It’s not me that’s glorified in acts of worship. It’s the worshipers. I don’t hear the words they say. I look inside at the humility. That broken-open lowliness is the reality, not the language.
`I want burning, burning. Be friends with your burning.
`Moses, those who pay attention to ways of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who burn are another. Don’t scold the Lover. The “wrong” way he talks is better than a hundred “right” ways of others. Inside the Kaaba it doesn’t matter which direction you point
your prayer rug.
`When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you will keep saying again and again, “This is certainly not like we thought it was!”
It’s all praise and it’s all right
(trans. Coleman Barks)
“You are the universe in ecstatic motion. Tonight the moon kisses the stars. O beloved, be like that to me.” — Jalal al-Din Rumi
There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives, the touch
of spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling!
At night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine.
Breathe into me. Close
the door of the brain and open
the window of the heart.
The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.