Orpheus Wore That Look
Orpheus wore that look of astonishment for the rest of his life How could he have been so thoughtless as to turn around? And…
About his birth the whole world knows
in the depths of its atoms.
Amina bore him and he was immediate
in his praise of Allah.
Some say he first did sajda, others
that he spoke the shahada
and then was silent.
Already at birth he was the Prophet of Unity, the
movie played backwards
from its glorious end.
His father Abdallah, from the tribe of Hashim,
died without seeing him.
The wet nurse Halima took him to her heart
and their goat’s milk flowed.
All the desert burst into sumptuous flower
from his singular presence.
The nighttime covered him
with its spangled blanket.
The day fluffed the wool of its sides for him to
tend it like huddled sheep.
A cloud went with him to shade him from the heat
at the desert saint’s surprise banquet.
(He could see the Prophet’s space among the
caravan leaders and
called out for him to fill it —
“Where is the boy who has come, by Allah,
to show me the Prophet’s seal?” — a mole
it is said, between his shoulder blades, with
circling hairs like a horse’s mane.)
He grew up trustworthy among men for whom
this was a difficult quality.
He took from the cloth of Unity
the Black Stone of Eternity
and placed it bodily
in the side of God’s House,
stone we kiss
out of awe of God’s Majesty!
1984 (from Maulood)
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