Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into an artifice of eternity.

Friday, August 21, 2015

MURAQABA


~For JH~

I

Sin alights like a raven on the line –
the soul has wings for penance,
and caws for its prayers: it shimmers
awake in a mi’raj trance and walks
along that deserted Famine Road
where hunger is shriven of the flesh
and the self is perished of all but itself –

II

Here are the sunny domes of the kings,
their gardens of earthly delights,
with silver minarets and golden statues,
with crowns of pale and hammered gold
garlanded by leaves of greened bronze,
and alabaster idols with amethyst eyes
weeping diamonds into the heart’s stone.

III

And there the wooden dove of Archytus,
that nimbus in the dim desert light,
takes flight into the white, rarefied air,
circles round Pharsalus where men
died and memory was born – There too
are Myrmidons stinking of sulphur
and rooks cawing the soul’s aubade.

IV

That desert was a jungle once,
but the sea bore its greenery away,
now your Fanaa beckons you,
you meet it midway on the scorched
and wintered sand where the eyes  
see only the old wounds though
disembodied of their flogged flesh.

V

The famished memory never forgets,
but lifts its blade as shorn grass rises
to renew itself – draw a line between
three worlds to demarcate time:
the past is a potter’s hands
and you the wheel’s clay, twisting
and spinning your baqaa into shape –


 VI

This is where all roads must meet:
on Mount Nebo overlooking
the self’s divide and return, its Barzakh,
and here’s where the dream ends,
in that gallery of blind eyeballs,
that Gehenna of the eastern wind,
in a cemetery by the Dead Sea.


VII

For forty days and forty nights the waves
beat at your shore, serried clouds rose
and a curfew of dread hung above
the city of the dead, barren winds howled,
and death overtook the vision of death –
a lone boatman steering his craft ashore
ferried you safely across the flood.
 

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