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BOWLS OF FOOD

By Syeda Waheeda,

Moon and evening star do their slow tambourine dance to praise this universe. The purpose of every gathering is discovered; to recognize beauty and to love what is beautiful. Once it was like that. Now it is like this, so the saying goes around town and serious consequences too.

Men and women turn their faces to the wall in grief. They lose appetite. Then they start eating the fire of pleasure, as camels chew pungent grass for the sake of their souls. Winter blocks the road. Flowers are taken prisoners underground; the green justice tenders a spear. Go outside to the orchard. These visitors came a long way, past all the houses of the zodiac, learning something new at each stop, and they are here for such a short time, sitting at these tables set on the prow of the wind.

Bowls of food are brought out as answers, but still no one knows the answer.

Food for the soul stays secret. Body food gets put out in the open like us. Those who work at a bakery do not know the taste of bread, like the hungry beggars do. Because the beloved wants to know, unseen things become manifestations. Hiding is the purpose of creation. Bury your seed and wait. After you depart, all the thoughts you had will throng around like children. The heart is the secret inside the secret. Call the secret language, and never be sure what you conceal.

It is the unsure people that get the blessing, the lifting limbs of the cypress, opening rose, nightingale song, fruit; these are inside the chill November wind. They are its secret. We climb and fall so often. Plants have an inner being, and separate ways of talking and feelings. An ear of corn bends in thought. Tulip, so embarrassed.

Pink rose deciding to open a competing store.

A bunch of grapes sits with its feet stuck out.

Narcissus gossiping about iris.

Willow, what do you learn from running water? Humility.

Red apple, what has the friend taught you? To be sour.

Peach tree, why so low? To let you reach.

Look at the poplar, all but without fruit or flower.

Yes, if I had those, I would be self absorbed like you.

I gave up self to watch the enlightened ones.

Pomegranate questions quince. Why so pale?

For the pear you hid inside me.

How did you discover my secret? Your laugh. The core of the seen and unseen universe smiles, but remember, smiles come best from those who weep. Lightning, then the rain –laughter. Dark earth receives that clear, and then grows a trunk.

Melon and cucumber come dragging along on pilgrimage.

You have to be to be blessed.

Pumpkin begins climbing a rope. Where did he learn that?

Grass, thorns, a thousand ants and snakes, everything is looking for food. Don’t you hear the noise?

The same way a branch draws water up many feet,

Almighty is pulling your soul along. Wind carrier’s pollen from blossom to ground. Wings and Arabian stallions gallop toward the warmth of spring. They visit. They sing and tell what they think they know. So-and so will travel to such- and- such.

The hoopoe carries a letter to Solomon.

The wise stork says lek-lek.

It is time to go to the high plain, to leave the winter house.

Be your own watchman as birds are. Let the resembling beads encircle you. I make promises myself and then break them. Words are coins. The veins of ore and the mineshift, what they speak of. Now consider the sun. It is neither oriental nor occidental. Only the soul knows what love is. This moment in time and space is an eggshell with an embryo crumpled inside, soaked in belief-yolk, under the wing of grace, until it breaks free of mind to become the song of an actual bird, and Almighty.

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