By Moulana Jalaluddin Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks.

If someone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,
Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
Like this?

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.
Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Like this?

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.
This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn't believe that,
walk back into my house.
Like this.

When lovers moan,
they're telling our story.
Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
Like this.

How did Joseph's scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob's sight return?

A little wind cleans the eyes.
Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he'll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
Like this.

" I'm not myself today, he thought. The heart flutters. Life damages the living. None of us are ourselves. None of us are like this"
Salman Rushdie

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It’s like this.

A boat, steering a course between
Two rocky cliffs, a boat width apart.

Or someone, carrying plates, balancing
On a rope, strung between those cliffs.

Whilst feeling as if
Someone is sawing at the back of your neck,
A black dog scratching at the back door.
A claustrophobic hum, so close to your ears:
A personal swarm of bees, tied to your head.
A metalwork vice wound
Between your temples, melting one eye
Or bursting the other.

And yet looking fine. Tired, but fine.

The day stretches away – gradually
Narrowing strait, gradually
Thinning cable.
Until someone says something does something is something starts
An express train no stops ever on a figure of eight
Loop inside the head, and then another, parallel
In reverse velocity increasing

And you second guess them third fourth and find
Yourself on a different track descent already thinking
What they meant and why multiplying agenda the boat wedges between
The cliffs engine screaming last threads of cable unwinding body
Tipping forwards plates unzipping vice tightening dog whining

And there’s not enough time to think or be clear or unpack
There’s just the bull response behind the lips to no question asked
Racked up behind it other bulls increasing in size ready to charge
At bewildered innocence caught in the headlights of nonsensical rage

Already detonating the chest in slow motion ribs outlined nausea feet
Scrabbling backward but falling bees angry and stinging now
Bulls tumble not charging but stumbling one after another more stupid
Than the last saw through last sinew no eyes the boat just splinters
Looking like crockery through the waves

For hours. One moment last hours.

That’s how it feels.
That’s how it feels, today.


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