dissolving further all the time (2014)

Somewhere along Balmy Beach, Toronto, ON.  © Saara Punjani 2013.
Somewhere along Balmy Beach, Toronto, ON.
© Saara Punjani 2013.

each time we turned
to rise above this illusion of the finite,
we were met with a ceiling – not yet, not yet

we made steady ablutions
and we kept a hopeful heart
and still, we were not crowned to go on

~

a kite without a string
would be blown every which way on the ground;

a kite with a string
rises high in finite direction

yet, without the string
we could not have come
as far as we already have

how far must we rise before the string can be cut;
before we are unbound from the direction of our path?

how far must we rise before we are taken into the skies,
mere specks, dissolving further all the time?

~

on this day, listen, to the quiet,
as clearly, some things are being said

whether we move,
upward,
inward,
outward or forward,
we cannot begin to say

the tides pull us away,
that we forget you;

the tides push us so far
that we fall right in

here we have always been, unmoving in the movement,
immersed in the truth of your most impressive signs

let us dig deeper, look farther, stay awake longer;
let us continue searching for you

let us be so obviously engrossed,
mere specks, dissolving further all the time

the crispness of this season (2014)

Autumn, somewhere near Mont-Tremblant, QC.  © Asif Virani, 2014.
Autumn, somewhere near Mont-Tremblant, QC.
© Asif Virani, 2014.

the crispness of this season
asks to know both who we were
and who we are

~

the maple, the oak, watch over themselves with silent grace
as the leaves they laboured to produce,
and that kept them alive,
dry out and fall steadily away

 

what remains of our victories and defeats,
of our convictions and our epiphanies?

we have been able to keep nothing
material from our endeavours

 

who can say whether we leave the past
or if it leaves us;

whether we ourselves walked paths
or if they grew up beneath our feet?

 

we have had nothing
and nothing has been ours

and yet, we are not who we remember.

what we know about ourselves (2014)

Raindrops on window pane. © Saara Punjani 2014.
Raindrops on window pane. © Saara Punjani 2014.

we love only that which is our own

a man, with his wife and son:
who do you think he truly loves?

~

it rains and rains

you approach, drenched and desolate,
a shelter for me, if only i would accept you

~

i wish we could say,
we are always happy with what we know about ourselves

i wish we could say,
we come with noble intention,
that we have been saving our last loaf
for the hunger of another

i wish we could say
we fall to our knees and kiss the ground,
thankful each day
for the fact that we can feel

~

sometimes when it rains
a gray runs down our face too

and sometimes,
we wish we could deny that we enjoy it

else, why would we drink the drink of self,
that warming wine of separation?

why would we continue being what we are?

~

we are, men in all of our abasement;
men, in all of our greatness

we bend lower
so that others might be jealous of our righteousness

we paint peace on our face
that they might admire our beauty as we pray

~

when everything is gray
go ask for it to be better
for someone else;

what you would have happen to you,
have it happen to someone else

oh dearest, you’ve never really been
hungry; never really been sad

you’ve never really needed anything you didn’t already have

come, smooth over the wrinkles on someone else’s face

make them yours,

and love them too.

the colours of our progression (2014)

The colours of our progression, somewhere outside Montreal. © Saara Punjani 2014.
The colours of our progression, somewhere outside Montreal, QC. © Saara Punjani 2014.

they say time waits for no one

~

never has there been enough time
to cultivate a sense of fearlessness;

always too much time
to make idols of inspiration

we have remained too young
to say that we live our lives with any grace;
too old to say, this is the end of our allotment

~

after all the hands have been shaken,
all the pages turned, the bellies filled

after all the smiles are spent
and all the comforts acquired,

we sit by the window to watch the colours of our progression

~

some things live out their course
and pass on and away in the height of their glory

but some of us are always green

we wait our turn;
we wait, to turn,
to mature into our very own shade of sienna

~

they say, time waits for no one

but for some, it never comes at all

the fire that consumes us (2014)

 

Fire in grate. Copyright Saara Punjani 2014.
Fire in grate. © Saara Punjani 2014.

 

some things hurt us more than all the others

~

sometimes, time dredges up the pain of our old selves;
memories of poisons we’ve drunk and those we’ve made

the beauty of our face is made unpleasant by our re-livings;
the heart burns and sobs, a prisoner to the scorching coals inside

we must remain perfectly still
lest we further fuel the fire that consumes us

everything we see, we have seen before,
and before that,

and now it flickers in our eye once again.

the centre (2014)

 

Image sourced from TheIsmaili.org: http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres/toronto/architecture-toronto-0
Image sourced from TheIsmaili.org: http://www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres/toronto/architecture-toronto-0

think, if someone were to give us a new eye,
a new way to see the soul in everything

~

we asked for peace so many times
that an entire abode was fashioned before our eyes

a place where peace literally throbs;
the heart and soul of a structure that is seemingly alive

 

none of us can be much of anything here

 

the night sky and the sky of the infinite
blend seamlessly into a protective garment

each encoded manifestation of truth
begs to be known, to be unified

 

something has shifted, here

— a new era emerges from the folds

~

it is what it is,
but also, what we bring to it;
this place, it opens all doors

how long would you seek truth
before participating in it,
how long would you look, before you saw?

 

the garden has grown up all around

 

once, there was nothing,

and then,

and then.

what you have always been (2014)

today, i am not writing;
i am hearing a language
that i do not quite understand

the vocabulary, given in flashes,
where veils, so to speak,
part to reveal a grander intention

than the one displayed
by you, or you,
or you

there is something else,
out there,
in there

~

one sense blends into another
and my heart becomes the crown of them all

i give myself over, one kernel at a time;

i deconstruct myself, one brick at a time
to see what is in the spaces between

there is something else out there,
in there

~

there is no reason
why i shouldn’t be able
to taste the freshness
of a moment

why
i shouldn’t be able
to  hear everything
that was ever said as truth

why i shouldn’t be able
to see through
to what remains
after the last of the bricks is removed

~

i don’t write these words
because i know any more than you know

i write them because
like you, i knew something once,
but i’ve forgotten

~

ask, to speak to you,
every moment, every breath,
every embrace

 

you are,
you are,
you are

what you have always been

and what you will always be

the places we’ve been (2014)

The places we've been. © Saara Punjani 2014.
The places we’ve been.
© Saara Punjani 2014.

what can we bring back
home from the places we’ve been?

~

when we travel, we leave behind
all of those things that have come to define us

the mirrors are different

the air is different

the light is different
and it bends around to show us more,

and less of what we thought we were

~

we come to the seaside
and make ourselves into a fine netting
so that the soul of the place will blow through

the sand grains wander
and still they make up miles of beach

we can’t hold on to anything for long
but we feel it ever so much:
what of any of this can we take home?

~

perhaps, i will bring only myself back to the beloved

perhaps, i, will be enough

a little more weathered,
a little less here, but,

with waves coming to rest on the sands of my heart,
and in my breathing, the winds over the sea

retreat (2014)

tonight, we are so quiet
that the heavens themselves reach
down to take us up, to take us in

for days we have retreated
into and away from ourselves,
at times ebbing, at times flowing

~

nothing and no one can give us what we already have

my heart’s tapestry is woven with your thread
but i was the patient weaver

i’ve known your melody for a time
but i’ve made my music longer

the gifts you gave were empty boxes
until the moment i opened them

~

tonight, i am the night
and the stars, and the breeze

i deepen

and then i fade
into the morning light

neither here nor there (2014)

today, i write of my state to the beloved,
with words, neither here nor there

~

your absence is felt so strongly
that i am awake while sleeping,
asleep while awake

my heart is nothing and an entire ocean:
waters flow through themselves and disappear

 

i rise and set in a weakening rhythm

 

i look for you so long in the distance  that i fade into it,
but still i am apart from you

 

~

 

in other language all of this
makes sense to me,
whether you understand it or not

if only my voice reaches to you,
that would be enough

 

your absence takes up residence in my eyes

 

every day i look down your road
to find you have gone farther and farther

every day i see my own eyes
and they ask me, where am i,

where am i?

to the beloved (2014)

A colour we cannot name.  © Saara Punjani 2014.
A colour we cannot name.
© Saara Punjani 2014.

the water of the stream flows to its end
and i, flow in all planes to the beloved

the beloved calls, and i dissolve into the wind;
the beloved exists, so i go

~

these waters gleam now and again silver,
now and again a colour we cannot name

once,

we think,

we think we glimpsed the beloved’s face reflected there

now we undertake this pilgrimage every day

~

the beloved is, so i am too,

for the moment

the water of the stream flows to its end

and i, on my way to the beloved

in my veins, in my blood (2014)

i write a letter to the beloved
my fingers move only in love

i move in love
and love moves me;
i turn,
i turn,
i turn

~

which sense to keep when loved by the beloved;
which of any of my things could i need?

what use for eyes that see the beloved everywhere;
for direction when upon the beloved’s door?

nothing need make be sense said anymore

the beloved knows what i would write before i do;
the beloved in my veins, in my blood

to speak of this, is to be silent (2014)

to speak of this, is to be silent

~

this night bears witness of the re-emergence of i
who extracts the self from the folds of us all
to take up seat in the presence of the beloved

 

who can stay locked up when the beloved comes to call;
who can refuse the sweet companionship?

every surface on which the beloved’s gaze falls,
loves, breathes, swings and sways in rapture

~

no one taught me how to find you
but you taught me
by the pen

no one told me i already knew you
but you tell me
over again

inside me, whole seas part
to reveal the way
to your shore

i have come upon myself
in a way
like never before

~

the shores of my heart (2014)

i close my eyes and listen for the arrival
of the beloved on the shores of my heart

~

where is the beloved now, even he does not know;
the horizon, an ever-unreachable illusion across the vast empty sky

i linger still, in the sand of our memories
which even now is freshly turned with the tread of soft feet

every wave which comes to bump up against my heart
sings a slightly different song than the one before it

in every stone i see the face of the beloved looking back at me;
in every wave is the depth of his eyes

each wave comes asking to move me,
to share news of the beloved’s journey from afar

do i want to know what news they carry of the beloved?

~

the last vessel has sailed from my shores

and there are none who can carry me across myself

i cannot send anyone after the beloved
but i take comfort in knowing
that i see the very same horizon
as he

~

i am quiet;
i am still

a stone thrown could not change this

and neither could one pour more water
to move me

 

this fresh instance (2014)

"That all men may know his work." Inscription in the ceiling of the Royal Ontario Museum. © Saara Punjani 2013.
“That all men may know His work.” Inscription in the ceiling of the Royal Ontario Museum. © Saara Punjani 2013.

who can say we have no need of a poet?

how many times we need eat the same message
yet certainly it tastes better when fresh!

~

let me bake this fresh instance,
let me sing this fluttering green;
let me whirl the tunic of my heart round;
let me paint this golden sheen

let me make this message something you know,
something you recognize;
something that knocks on the door of your stillness
and rouses you into a poet too

 

 

the shower of your blessing (2014)

this, is the shower of your blessing
the one that comes down as music
needing only something off which to sound

we hover now, on the best place there is:
on the threshold, a step away from your rain,
but not fully inside of it

 

only here can we truly appreciate what you send

 

were we immersed,
we could not see how this rain drops abundantly on every leaf,
each of which curls, bows, in gratitude

were we too far away
we could not see how this rain constantly merges with itself,
ever merging into larger course

 

a trickle to a stream, a stream to a river:
instinctively, we know where this merger leads

the coming of a light (2014)

Dawn, or dusk. © Saara Punjani 2014.
Dawn, or dusk. © Saara Punjani 2014.

the earth we tilled with your mercy
is covered in a layer of dust

ourselves, producers of little rain,
dry in the eye and empty in the chest

i, never an oasis but always home to green,
turn to sand carried swiftly away

~

at times i wonder,
am i rumi or am i shams?

am i to receive
or will i ever inspire,
not as me,
but of you?

will a day come when i
am finally what you intended,

when i am no longer a sum of ingredient?

~

keep me apart here,
i have no complaint,

but please, please tell me this:

am i here to await the coming of a light,

or am i here to myself become one?

what sun shines here (2014)

a flower blooms steadily in love:

desiring for sun to gaze upon its every part

yearning for dew to slide slowly over each curve

 

at the peak of its love, each petal arches so strongly

that it breaks free of everything and goes on

~

what sun shines here, a dusty lamp;
what morning wet, a mere drop

tell me, if i break free,
will you place a palm underneath and carry me?

unlidded (2014)

a power enters our vessel this night

we stand, electrified
as a force from elsewhere courses through

~

for months we have opened this door and that

looking for the place we once stumbled upon
looking for the feeling which could not be stored

now here, under crescent moon and darkened sky
where soft waves keep consistent rhythm

here, is a glistening sign

~

what has taken hold of us this time?

the sky as though unlidded;
ourselves, similarly so

what stirs the trees to move as they do?
what force leaves its mark in the sand?

this power both beckons and warns

~

once again we are on the verge of sleeplessness,
once more, on the edge of your cliff

the time of our rose (2014)

Pink roses. © Saara Punjani 2014.
Pink roses. © Saara Punjani 2014.

the time of our rose has passed us,
and we become more bitter by the day

reach out your hand and pluck us, love;
remove us from the misery of these days

~

this is not our season;
this place is not our stage

linger though we might,
we are so much less dazzling
though we recall how beautiful
we’ve once been

the blossom that grew us
from the seed of our names
robed us in a quality,
innate

have we been asleep,
or have we been afraid
to let go, to move on,
come what may?

there is no telling
what we will be
the moment after the one
where we are

what fruit may we bear,
if we trust in ourselves,
if we let ourselves be,
who we are?

~

our bitterness weighs
on the very branch that nurtured us,
and we wilt and we droop in our pain

our poison spreads

we see it,
but we don’t stop it,
and that makes us very afraid.

 

straight lines (2014)

straight lines do not inspire us;
straight lines, they make up a fence

now we look for empathy in coffee mugs
and the faces of the people in the street

where is the warmth we knew and loved?
where, where, is the sun?

~

why does repetition here not lead
to the liberation we have come to find in you?

where we are now, there are similarly
levels upon levels to climb

but with you what could be attained in a moment of love,
here takes years and years

~

far too long have i loved you and your accommodation;
you take me as i am, and i need not win you over, because
you will never leave

~

the straight lines in which we now clothe ourselves
and the straight lines upon which we walk
are none like the directness with which we approached you,
one bead of light at a time, along the length of your rope

this green (2014)

today’s cold, crisp leaf passes me by

why do we not connect as we once did?

 

i fear that this green will not come again in all of its freshness

why do we not remain in life as we once did?

 

for certain, no good comes of joy without equal parts pain

joy, the flutter of the leaf still connected; pain, the moment of parting ways

 

but what to call the reality of dead wood, where there is not a leaf in sight, but only a thickening numbness?

~

 

the world and places like it (2014)

The most beautiful thing. © Saara Punjani 2014.
The most beautiful thing. © Saara Punjani 2014.

dearest,

why do we go all around
the world and places like it?

why do you want to take me where you’ve been?

~

what makes you whole
makes me whole, too

the feeling you seek,
is my life

 

how long will we flit,
two bees on the same flower
returning home to tell stories
of the most beautiful thing?

 

what you love, is what i love too,
though i am not your bee

you needn’t see with my eyes,
you needn’t feel with my heart

to know how hundreds of fields
become one

sinking ship (2014)

years do not slowly shape this knowledge,
as waves tend to slowly shape shore

put us in a room of strangers aboard a slowly sinking ship,
and no one need explain what to do

~

if a man leaves a room, and we dislike him,
we paint that dislike onto his memory
so as not to have to dislike ourselves

but if a man leaves the world,
suddenly, all surfaces are occupied;
where now do we place our colours?

~

in a sinking ship, none are friends,
and yet, we know each other well

in my eyes, you can see your grief;
in your grief, i see all of me

never have we shared a meal
as candid as this one,

and today, i wear my face without paint.