Once again I am posting a poem by Kazim Ali to honor the holy month of Ramadan, which is coming to an end. (Reader Farida Bag tipped me off to him.) I am particularly enamored with the lines, “If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets/into the air and harvest the fog.” When one has been fasting, one becomes attuned to spiritual dimensions of the world that elude our full-bellied selves. One also feels a special kinship with the wretched of the earth, with the illiterate and the hungry.
If it is night, the fasting worshipper experiences a darkness that is so thick and quiet that one may hear the spider pause in its spinning and angels stop in their whispering.
What does one hear in the sound of silence? Perhaps it’s the night’s mouth sacredly reciting. Or perhaps it’s merely wind. Although we may never know for sure, we listen anyway.
by Kazim Ali
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?
If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.
Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,
the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—
The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—
You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—
The artist’s work can be found at oil-painting-art.blogspot.com/2009/02/landscape-oil-painting-rising-fog.html.
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