what the sufis knew   minal hajratwala


(after Hafiz, c. 1320-1389)

The Teacher

Watching me
Tear off my clothes
& pull my hair

She asks
A question.

Twenty times
I answer

Each time
Half a hair closer
To what I meant by

The first time
Before I knew it was
My gift to Her.

The Bullfighter

Red gaze of the Teacher
(Beloved)   (Friend)

Tender wet layers
Of the heart.

With desperate desire
For this ravaging

We lower our heads,
We run at top speed
Thrusting our horns
Into God.

The Annihilator

This being loved
Is not even

My Teacher has
Many students.
For that matter,
She has given up teaching.

Searching, I had words
With many maestros,
Men and women of virtue.

Give me this One who
Ten minutes at a time
Every few months

Consents to
Annihilate them all.

The Director

Stand here, she says.
Like this.

No! Like this!
Yes. Now,
How does it feel?

I don't know how to answer.
Being Body,
I have forgotten

All my guile,
All ways of not saying
I love you.

The Beloved

I always fall in love
With my Teacher.

At eight years old
She said: Poet!

At 14, She decided
At eighteen, feminism.
At twenty-six, espanol.

Now She reveals Herself
In hot bright theater lights.
Also as my father.

One day She will appear
At the bottom of the sea.
I will follow Her there, too,

Of transparent joy.

The Artist

I used to draw
As my father taught me
Tiny intricate designs
In the corners of pages.

Now I bodypaint
Wide yellow lines
Down the middle of the street.

Well, not exactly. But see
What the ant and the steamroller
Have in common?

Both are giggling at my notions of
In cahoots with the One
Whose patterns these are!

The Pirate

Nostrils flaring
With conviction
She demands,
What IS it?

She refuses
To take Yes
For an answer.

Commit! Commit!
Is her mantra.
To every gesture,
Moment, word,

Especially when
I am most afraid
It is almost a comfort, this word, a mercy,
A shot of whiskey for one

Being pushed off the gangplank
Into the roiling, terrible beauty of
The sea.

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