she was beautiful (2014)

The inner became the surface, and she was transformed. © Saara Punjani 2014.
The inner became the surface, and she was transformed. © Saara Punjani 2014.

she became beautiful in love


her face, a lantern, her skin the translucent paper
her lips, they flamed and they were alive

what i saw on her, was what was in her;
the inner became the surface, and she was transformed


she became no more desirable than before,
but there was something

her shoulders were relaxed; her spine too
her breath was steady


she was beautiful.

you are home (2014)


it’s okay to be the one that loves more

to be the one that speaks less

to be the one that reaches out for a strong hand

isn’t it wonderful
that you can be so in need?

isn’t it wonderful
that you can feel so in need?

my dearest, dearest, heart:

it’s okay to put the self to rest
and to yield to your need
for the beloved


i close my eyes and
my forehead is so naturally drawn
downward, to rest at your feet

i cannot do other than bow

this is where i am
and this is where i belong

something in me knows
are home.

what is winter (2014)

Winter, somewhere near Ottawa, Canada. © Saara Punjani 2013.
Winter, somewhere near Ottawa, Canada. © Saara Punjani 2013.


has not spring followed every winter of your life?

your task is not to hurry along the new season,
but to grow your stores of patience
so that you may quietly weather the cold


in cycles you fall and rise
in cycles you pain and grow


what is winter if not the ultimate growing pain?

your task is not to despair in the receding light,
but to close your eyes in proportion
so that you may continue to remain in harmony

what is winter if not the ultimate preparation for change?

your task is not to cling to what once grew on you,
but to let what has served its purpose gracefully fall away
so that you may remain open to embrace new plantings

what is winter if not the ultimate opportunity for reflection?

your task is not to cry, not to blind yourself with the memory of what once was,
but to bravely face your bare reflection in frozen pools
so that you may know what you are at your core.

my heart is becoming blind (2014)

my heart is becoming blind,
but finding meaning in a way that was not open to it before

when the eyes were wide,
the fingers were dead; the world of raised letterforms,

my heart is becoming deaf,
but finding meaning in a way that was not open to it before

when the ears were sensitive,
the eyes pre-conceived; the world of fresh signs,

my heart is becoming mute,
but finding meaning in a way that was not open to it before

when the mouth ran on,
the ears grew stiff; the world of boundless harmony,

my heart is losing its mind,
but finding meaning in a way that it could only understand
after walking a new path
of learning
of knowing
of being


what sense is this?
which fingers grasp the idea of you?
which eyes are open for your light?

my heart grows an entire body around it
though one existed before

my heart causes an entire body to inflate
into the one the existed before

what pushes on the walls of my old self,
wanting out?

am i to burst, or am i to shed,
what was once dead,
what was once me?

your place in the world (2014)

you are a single gem in the diamond necklace of the world
next to all others, your shimmer joins in the collective
and there is only the symphony of all,
each note perfectly timed

but set apart, we can truly examine
what is you
your depth, your clarity;
what you bring to a darkened night

look at you, in perfect harmony
look at you, a part of the whole
look at you, so capable of being;
so sure of your place in the world.

the most free / on the page (2014)

some days i wonder if you remember me

you have so many to attend to
but i still wish you would come to see me


what does it tell you, dearest,
that of all the expression you could choose,
you chose poetry, the most free



expression is the way
to find you

you remember me
when i remember you

perhaps you, o free one, always come
when i ask you to meet me
on the page.

the day (2014)

up until now you have seen nothing
a glimpse here, a slip there

the day i throw back my robe and reveal my full self to you,
the day i push back the drapes of my interior,

that day, will you know me


give me a seed
and i will grow a garden for you

give me an cup
and i will brew an ocean for you

give me a little love,
and, dearest,
i will make a lifetime
for you

hello, beautiful (2014)

i take up space inattentively over two seats,
legs jumbled, in the midst of thought
riding home underground,
writing in my notebook

hello, beautiful

a short latino man intrudes
with a smile or with a leer — i can’t decide


at one time i might have
cringed reactively;
strange creep

but today i smile

what does it take from me to be gracious?
here is an opportunity to live
up to what he claims to see in me

he leaves the subway car,
perhaps in search of another
to teach something to


does the tree look down at the shade-seeker in disdain?
does the bird turn up his beak at the admirer and say,
shut your ears,
you are not worthy
to hear me?


if beauty is with you
it is by no effort of yours


and did he not say those words to me
while i was holding the pen?

when else am i beautiful,
if not when being what i am?

when else am i beautiful,
if not when beyond myself,

if not when living in you?


thank you,
man from the subway;
thank you very much!

send it out! (2014)


what does it mean to have a perfect moment,
when we do not know if the next moment will come?

these moments that you are living,
are the perfect moments


when love beats its fists on the walls of your throat,
let it out!


at once the maestro of the universe
and the twinkle in the eye of the playful child

it wants to be known, it wants to flow


don’t let it sit in you, fermenting

send it out!

blessings accumulated (2014)

do you
to give the stranger a smile,
to give your friend a single grain
of the love over which you keep such meticulous account?

what of yours will lessen if you unlock yourself
to let someone else gaze upon your treasure?


you were only given anything
because Someone thought
you knew what to do
with these gifts


give away whatever does not fit comfortably in your existing cupboards


and watch how heavy you become in the corpulence of blessings accumulated


whatever you keep beyond what you need is

potter (2014)

a potter sees clay

what would you like to be today, love?

let me shape you, fashion you,
let me hold you and mould you,
let me press you and caress you,
into what you once were,

into what you have always been


my heart sees you,
though to my eyes
you are a lump of clay
like any other


i know where you came from
and i know what you want to be

i will release you from your matrix;
i will love you into who you are
and who you have been.

circle (2014)

recognizing you
nothing to

nothing from

why is crimson more crimson
why is fire more bright
why is everything more everything

when i recognize you?


your name on my tongue;
unfamiliar, ill-fitting,
a language i do not know

then, i make myself a mule,
a beast of burden,
an ox putting one hoof in front of the other;

like that, i say your name in a circle

the dumb beast, my tongue,
in rote;
my fingers, silent,
looking for you

in a circle

and then your name makes sense

you become my language

you, in the circle

and suddenly i go beyond the circle,

that has no beginning, no end

something lifts off of the cold, un-breathing beads,
taking off

something either comes to life or something dies;
it doesn’t matter which

the circle transcends itself
the transcendence, no longer any shape but yours
which is to say,
no shape more or less than a circle
no circle more or less than a shape
no circle but circle
no shape but shape

no you

but you

silly grown-up (2014)

today even the sky refuses
to see that sun stands behind it;
that sun shines all around

doesn’t sky know that all he must do
is to step his Self out of sun’s way?


last year’s trash comes loose from street-side icebergs
i walk, careful not to get my boots wet

eyes looking down,
my Self, growing ever larger

because i refuse to see what is all around


behind me, someone chants,
something eerie, but something familiar


i listen more closely:

rain, rain, go-a-way, come-again-another-day
rain, rain, go-a-way, come-again-another-day


silly grown-up! have you forgotten what it was like
to be so small that surrender was no choice;
to be so small that you knew you had no control?

the little girl isn’t happy or sad,
she just is

who are you, to feel the world on your shoulders?
tell me, who are you?

the little girl isn’t worried or anxious;
she holds momma’s hand

with momma there, gloom is simply gloom
that will go away,
that may come another day

but momma will be there!


whose hand do you hold, silly grown-up?

tea steeped too long (2014)

tea steeped too long becomes bitter
fruit ripened too long makes waste

a candle impatiently pushes his covering out of the way to join his wick in union with sweet air,
only to drown in himself and die


i can never be worthy;
i can never thank you enough
i can never wholly appreciate the gifts you give


how can too much love engender hate?


when love is scarce, i breathe more deeply to take you in
when you give me some, my hands join in thanks of their own accord;
my spine strong, in harmony with you



when it doesn’t end,

when you are too kind to me,


i fall


into inertia, unmoving
my eyes vacant
my heart, inflexible


i hate me

this unbeautiful, ungrateful


i try not to go near you,
because you remind me of everything i am not,
everything i can never be


i don’t call your name
i don’t ask for your hand
i don’t journey to your house;
i lock myself in mine


if i move an inch i will bump into you
if i see a mirror, i need avert my gaze


i hate me when i am not like you;
this unbeautiful, ungrateful

i never saw you before (2014)

you have always been here,
but i never saw you before

though i searched for you;
i looked for you


have you always been you?
have i ever been ready to see you before now?


a season comes, as it should
a flower comes up from the ground this season,
like none before, like none before


have you always loved me this way?

have you been waiting,
for me to see you?


a rose blooms, as it should
a lover unveils himself
this season

like a star whose light reaches me today after years of existence
like a fragrance that begins in one corner of the house and spreads slowly throughout my body
like a seed that awakens in opaque soil, only to suddenly emerge
like a crystal that forms not a moment after i pull my waiting eyes away


you have shown your sign


listen to your heart, they say
let it guide you


which part of me sees you, feels you?
which part of me knows you?


you have known me a long time
loving from near, loving from afar

i cannot say how, but i remember you


i close my eyes to see you

i enter my heart
to meet you

agra (2014)

my feet carry me down your path
i don’t stop walking, though i know i will never reach your end

i walk to agra
i walk in agra
around me, the city continues to grow; to intensify

i am in agra but i will never know it all

i am in you
but i will never
you all

mountain king (2014)

we set out to meet our maker
in the valleys of setting sun

we followed an empty road out of the city
and drove until all warmth melted into snowy plain

like flagships in gloomy distance,
the longer we looked, the more appeared;
subtle crowns on foreheads of sky

then around one bend, we stopped breathing:
he loomed, terrible king of the sky,
pulling us ever downward, drawing us ever more near

we had no choice but to go to him,
terrible king of the sky.

mountain spirits blew chilling winds in circles

we see youuuu              we know what is in your heaaart

we faltered, we went forward; we could not move, we tried to turn back
— all the while he watched us, terrible king of the sky.


mountain king, bone of earth,
ruthless, ever-present

you have seen me and I you

mountain king,  your spirits call,
in the valley howls.

deepen my cup (2014)

i had enough but i asked for more,
a little more
a little more still

you obliged silently, filling my cup to the very top


what danced inside was love, was light;
a thousand rubies all melting into one.

i am brimming, i said to you;
i cannot take any more of your light!

please, deepen my cup so that i can hold even this much of you in me

please, open my pores,
my cells
my eyes
my every hair

so that i can breathe again.


the blooming chalice,
the rose and the wineglass,
how similar they look!

why give myself of sorrow; why try to empty my cup?

in the waiting on edge, in the unrest of too much joy,
you will grow my cup, when you want to.

show me who I am (2014)

Today I smooth out my dress;
I comb my hair and apply oils

I want to be so radiant that you cannot bear to look at me


Will you be my mirror?
If I look into you, show me my beauty


How much of me is lost in translation
How much of you, revealed in my reflection

You are nothing without me
Only a servant
Waiting to be called from the wings


Show me who I am

And I am gold!


Husniya, I will name my daughter;
Latifa, I will call her; my love

What comes from me should be me
Should be beautiful as me
And more heartbreakingly so
Because she will be you, too

Husniya, I will call her; Latifa, my love!

May she never need to look further than herself
To find me.


(I use Husniya and Latifa to loosely correspond to “beautiful” in English.)

come into me (2014)

what is this relationship we have?

all i have to do is keep myself open,
and you slide yourself quietly within

you are so gentle with me;
i don’t feel your arrival until you are well within my blood;
until i am ready to receive you

then suddenly i become aware

you have come!

you are here!


if i am speaking, the words are yours
if i breathe, the rhythm is you

i become a vessel
through which you manifest


if you want to write, i hold myself out as your pen
if you want to dance, i keep myself loose to take on your shape
if you want to breathe, i rise and fall for you

let me be your hand, your face
let me be your eye, your foot
let me be an extension of you


into me.

we broke free (2014)

disenchanted with the tarmac we knew so well,
we began to run.

something made us feel that if only we ran into the horizon
we might somehow vanish

into infinity,
into a point.

we ran so much
we ran so fast

we looked to the left and right

and suddenly we were
higher than before,
feet no longer gripping ground

we began a steady ascent
breathing more deeply the longer we looked,
the higher we flew

we began to dream
forgetting the city of our departure,
holding steady, getting to know,
until in one hail Mary push

we said, we’re not ready but it’s time!

we broke free of the cloud!

gasping for air,

finding there was no need to breathe;

we were imbibed.

we have never been more close
to the sun; it blinds us.

our pupils shrink out of humility;

we lower our gaze
to see even more beauty.

atrium (2007)

Before time there was
only my shell and


the fleshy vacuole inside where,


I waited to see what time would
hold for my fluid existence

suspended in what I now know to be
the atrium of blindness where


I could see blindly      only
what sights were created for me       especially,

the cosmic particles floating quietly
overhead in the gleaming red


the dazzling
lights which marked time,

but not the passing of thousands of years
in the lit sky


in the globular kind of
entrapment, meant only as a harbour
before the unsettling waves of the outside

in this atrium was my shell, my lungs shell


in this atrium was the continual gloom
and sticky comfort of being held close,
closely held by the strings of an internal universe,

held here for an unknown duration, blindly,
so that I could know the


raw reds that were,
before the greens and pinks of my Mother.