We’ve come again to that knee of seacoast
no ocean can reach.
Tie together all human intellects.
They won’t stretch to here.
The sky bares its neck so beautifully,
but gets no kiss. Only a taste.
This is the food that everyone wants,
wandering the wilderness, “Please give us
your manna and quail.”
We’re here again with the beloved.
This air, a shout. These meadowsounds,
an astonishing myth.
We’ve come into the presence of the one
who was never apart from us.
When the waterbag is filling, you know
the water carrier’s here!
The bag leans lovingly against our shoulder.
“Without you I have no knowledge,
no way to touch anyone.”
When someone chews sugarcane,
he’s wanting this sweetness.
Inside this globe the soul roars like thunder.
And now silence, my strict tutor.
I won’t try to talk about Shams.
Language cannot touch that presence.
The Friend comes into my body
looking for the center, unable
to find it, draws a blade,
Hallaj said what he said and went to the origin
through the hole in the scaffold.
I cut a cap's worth of cloth from his robe,
and it swamped over me from head to foot.
Years ago, I broke a bunch of roses
from the top of his wall. A thorn from that
is still in my palm, working deeper.
From Hallaj, I learned to hunt lions,
but I became something hungrier than a lion.
I was a frisky colt. He broke me
with a quiet hand on the side of my head.
A person comes to him naked. It's cold.
There's a fur coat floating in the river.
"Jump in and get it," he says.
You dive in. You reach for the coat.
It reaches for you.
It's a live bear that has fallen in upstream,
drifting with the current.
"How long does it take!" Hallaj yells from the bank.
"Don't wait," you answer. "This coat
has decided to wear me home!"
A little part of a story, a hint.
Do you need long sermons on Hallaj!
Spiritual experience is a modest woman
who looks lovingly at only one man.
It's a great river where ducks
live happily, and crows drown.
The visible bowl of form contains food
that is both nourishing and a source of heartburn.
There is an unseen presence we honor
that gives the gifts.
You're water. We're the millstone.
You're wind. We're dust blown up into shapes.
You're spirit. We're the opening and closing
of our hands. You're the clarity.
We're this language that tries to say it.
You're joy. We're all the different kinds of laughing.
Any movement or sound is a profession of faith,
as the millstone grinding is explaining how it believes
in the river! No metaphor can say this,
but I can't stop pointing
to the beauty.
Every moment and place says,
"Put this design in your carpet!"
Like the shepherd in Book II,
who wanted to pick the lice off God's robe,
and stitch up God's shoes, I want to be
in such a passionate adoration
that my tent gets pitched against the sky!
Let the beloved come
and sit like a guard dog
in front of the tent.
When the ocean surges,
don't let me just hear it.
Let it splash inside my chest!