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Beside the moss
beside red rock

we walk, we walk
to the falls and talk

and long, long after
you have gone,

the empty space
you left near me

and I, we walk on
and on.

Mischief

all day as I walk
I practice the art
of forgetting—
which means all day I remember
what I wish to forget

*

that rock
I’ve been carrying—
every time I put it down
I find it again
in my other pocket

*

these thoughts
wear the strangest shoes—
no heel, no toe,
trying to track them
I see they go both ways at once

*

caught in a tunnel
with a fire at both ends—
now would be
a perfect time
to learn to dig

*

in the end
there is no rock, no shoes,
no tunnel no fire—
there is only the art
of loving the one who remembers

muslimjourneys_poetseries_small-page-001

Let’s talk about something besides weather. Let’s talk about life, the miraculous body, the wonders of the heart, the agony of loss. And what is spirit? And what is love? And what are we here for, anyway?

That’s right. Let’s talk about all the things you’re yearning to talk about, but you’re not sure how to bring them up. Join local poet and scholar Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for this three-part series on the Sufi poets Hafiz, Rabia and Rumi.

The workshops will take place three consecutive Thursdays, May 1, 8 and 15 at 6 p.m. The workshops are free and open to everyone. The last workshop will feature Middle Eastern food and music and a celebration of the mystic poets and the Muslim Journeys series, of which this series is a part.

Wilkinson Public Library was one of just 125 libraries and humanities councils in the US to receive an American Library Association/National Endowment for the Humanities grant to present Muslim Journeys , a scholar-led reading and discussion program designed to foster opportunities for community conversations about the histories, faith and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States. WPL’s program began in January.

Look Around

illustration by Leanne Canty

illustration by Leanne Canty

Look Around

‘Opportunity’ comes from the Latin porta, which is an ‘entrance’ or ‘passage through.’ The word is associated with doors and entranceways and an oppourtunus then, is what offers an opening, or what stands before an opening, ready to go through.
—Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes this World

A crumb is an opportunity
for an ant. Strong wind is an opportunity
for the albatross to soar. An apple, ripe

and wholly red, is an opportunity to share.
For the aardvark surrounded by termites,
opportunities are everywhere.

The rain, to the agave, is an opportunity
to blossom. To Cleopatra, the venom of the asp
was an opportunity to die.

In golden autumn, aspen leaves are an opportunity
to get lost. An acorn is an opportunity for future shade.
A queen of hearts is an opportunity for an ace of spades.

There are always opportunities to listen. An enemy
is an opportunity for antlers to do what antlers do.
The temperature of a nest is an opportunity for an alligator egg

to be an alligator boy or an alligator girl. The artichoke
is an opportunity for the thistle to be valued.
The vast Atlantic Ocean is an opportunity to be alone.

What is not an opportunity for gratitude? A zillion zillion
blessings wait in every moment, portals for awe,
passages to astonishment, one way tickets with your name on them.

Quietly

I walk away from the world
but there is only the world.

No, it is my thoughts
I try to leave behind.

Thoughts of how things
could be so different if only.

But there is only the way things are.
I spend hours in the garden,

shoveling and pulling and raking.
It hails. The hail passes. The sun

blazes and then disappears.
All day I am alone with the dirt,

the spade, the preparing of a space
for things to grow. And there,

hiding beneath last year’s dead parsley,
five sprightly green parsley volunteers.

I do not want to live forever,
but there is only forever, this moment

strung together with every other moment.
It is good to be kneeling in the dirt

aware that I am practicing. Now the rain.
I continue to dig, to tug. Now sun.

The day goes by. It goes by.
I forget to try to find myself.

Never Far Away

We tell stories about who we are and what life is, but seldom see that they’re only stories. The good news is that the truth is never far away. It’s right here, in fact, posing as backdrop.
—Erik Hansen, “The Island,”
Tricycle Magazine

Tonight the truth is posing as a short-haired cat,
gray and increasingly white muzzled.
She wants love. Now. She will scratch
for it, push for it, shove for it, yowl.
She has been left alone too long and
her black spine rises up to meet my hand
as I reach down toward her back. Not enough.
She leaps up and curls herself into an island
on my lap. People are usually more polite.
Unless we pout. Send darts with our eyes
with a note attached to the shaft that says,
Fuck you. I need you. Goddammit. Now. Please?
Oh the truth. How it messes everything up.
Like the story that says, I need your love.
It’s got so much drama, so much pull.
That story, a woman could build a whole life
around it before she ever thought to ask herself,
Is that true? The cat curls deeper into
my lap. I feel the tug toward the love
that I call you. My spine arcs as it rises up,
starving for your touch. My claws
come out as I start to purr. Who says
it has to make sense. I’ll do
whatever it takes to make you close.

a button
and a buttonhole—
only effective when we realize
how much we need
each other.

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