Inspired by Makhtumkuli
The cuckoo's trail of cries punctures
then withers in the sky
The wake of drake on water leaves a transitory trace
Beneath the ground blind moles scour out their paths, dark and unsound
The spotted civet goes by night, and never shows its face
The sweet green leaves of April sink in autumn to the ground.
All things that live must serve their term, and die.
Below the hot still air my prayer goes
up. It shares
The evanescent nature of the breath of all my prayers.
But through such fleeting things we learn
Only in Allah can we find our Permanence.
In search of wisdom once I wandered
'Through fields and vines and scorching sand
And found no little sleepy town
Where someone was not scorned or stoned or banned.
Beneath the tattered sun of drought,
Amid the lands of fawn and tan,
Wherever mankind built their huts,
I watched them following the laws of man.
A man had looked upon another's woman
A woman walked abroad without a veil -
This fellow left his mule unshod -
Or this one lied and stole his neighbour's pail.
These were the wrongs, those were the
It seemed to me they somehow balanced out.
But how to make life easier?
While hating wrongs and rules I stayed in doubt.
These things I wrote about. I kept a book
Tucked in my girdle everywhere I went.
Through grass or sand I made my way
And entered on its page my discontent.
One night alone beneath an ancient moon
I opened up my book to scrawl a clause,
And found there writ in words of fire
This message: "DOUBT NOT! JUST OBEY GOD'S LAWS!"
Eye of God, look down
On me, your humble clown!
My father was a paragon for me.
When looking in his eyes, yes, I could see
He moulded me and all I was -
And what he always was I longed to be.
A humble man who worshipped all that's good -
That was my father. Doing all he could,
He taught me how to reverence God:
His deepest thoughts I never understood.
The power of his eye was not denied:
I lived in it. Then came that day I cried
When he one morning groaned and fell.
He called my name. I held him as he died.
A man without a father
Is a bird without a wing,
A boy without a beard,
A stone without a sling,
A girl without a song to sing,
All that a son has ever feared.
I knelt. I mopped his brow. His brow I kissed.
I gently closed his eyes. Now I persist
In wondering if, now that those eyes
Are closed that moulded me - do I exist?
Do I exist? Or am I just a shy
Reflection of my father? I must
To find fresh life and spirit now
Within the wider compass of God's eye.
Blossoms began to fall from blossom trees
Solemnly one by one
Into the waiting pool.
Up from the lucid depths a rival flower
Began to swim
Paler darker but in every way
The image of the failing flower.
They draw together.
But what if they missed
If flower and reflection failed to meet?
Talking of which
A friend remarked about the East v. West divide
As we sprawled counting blossoms
"West has the watches but we have the time..."
We talked this way
All epigram and wise remark
We laughed and sipped our wine
And the reflection met the real.
In many perfect days like this -
The trees, the shade, the shafts of sun and wit
All ease - the only botch is
We have the time, the West has all the watches.