for John Heron Some ladders go up some ladders go down It’s true! Of course all ladders intrinsically go both ways both up and…
Ramadan is over, and I’ll miss its strange intensity.
Dry mountains suddenly flower
purged of their pent-up poisons.
The air is the same, an
growling through it
overhead. Underfoot the same earth
slowly spins, but
with this month of time spliced neatly into our
time frame there’s a
renewal, a re-
awakening to our
human strengths and
frailties, and the
sweet taste of relief that comes as a
friend. Such a wind
blows through palm trees at the edge of a sleepless sea,
such a powerful link-up with time
past and time future, with
long marches, endurance of prisoners of
conscience, famine, sudden
calamities on high snow mountain peaks when
storms from nowhere force climbers into a snow-cave with
few supplies and only the
warmth of each others’ bodies to
stay alive –
images press forward, faces and thoughts of
people pushed to their limits
flood forward from their being where they are
to our Ramadan apprehension
in the luxury of our normal surroundings
with the Fast ordered from God through His
Prophet, peace be upon him, so that it has the
total weight and ring of
Divine obligation, the
daily observance, and the
celestial gifts at the end
which come as
dots of light in
space all around us
as we walk with our
faces turning left and right
at new worlds
all around us
How strange that it’s all based on the sighting
of the slightest
sliver of the moon!
The whole sky veils it then, only the
curved edge, like the
rim of a silver glass, can be
barely seen, yet it
end of the Fast!
We go out looking for it, but what we’re
looking for is only a
thin rind of light, no big
structure of stars or full-moon’s totally
visible target, nor yet the
billiously glowing fireball of the
sun, but only the
hair-curve of that
dead reflective body, magnetic
mirror companion to earth, pocked
corpse of weird desolation, to us
brilliant Klieg when bulbous, but such a
spectral delicacy when new, so
furtive in so much
sundown (where it usually
is at the
end of each
lunar month), and it is this
subtlety we are commanded to
seek, this beautiful
uncertainty, known for sure really
only by God, that
signals to us
as clear a renunciation of
earth-life as death is, as
clear a reflection of our sliver-thin
mortality as not
eating is, so that our
days are made more
transparent on earth, so that we
too are made
1 Shawwal / 2:28 AM
From moon to moon the months go floating by,
one set for pilgrimage, one set for fasting.
Filmy pictures of our lives pass like a fly
buzzing out a window. Only God’s True Face is lasting.
Once a month or minute goes it can’t come back.
Memory calls up fuzzy pictures, but the taste is gone.
Water trickles through wide fingers, but hands don’t lack,
in slipping moisture, the always present moment to fasten on.
The present moment, mountain high, moonlight clear,
rises through the valley clouds of circumstance.
All altitudes are possible, all cliffs as sheer
as glass, or scenery gorgeous as a glance
in passing at a picturesque scene, quick flash!
God’s Face stays. Our moments turn to moonlit ash.
6/11/89 (from Ramadan Sonnets)