After reading “The Guest House,” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
The house, remember how it was swept
so clean last time you came around?
Not a book left on the shelves. The closets,
hangerless. The drawers, bare. Not even
a dust bunny under the bed. It was terrifying,
really, to inhabit all that emptiness. No cup,
not even a dirty one, to offer you. And you,
unphased, led me to the river to drink.
I am almost afraid to tell you I bought new cups.
And the shelves, well, there are lots of new books.
Many I have not yet opened. I just bought them
hoping to know, know something, something more,
something about nothing. That is ridiculous,
I know, and I can laugh at myself and still
I order more books.
There are rugs in the halls, and lamps, and I could even
offer you a stool. Is it so wrong, Rumi, to have brought
all the furniture in again? Shame, she came again
last week. She spit on my mirror and it won’t come off.
And Fear, he trampled mud all over the new white carpet.
And Anger, he tossed two of the new tea cups
on the floor where they shattered like hope.
And Hope, she picked up the pieces and made
a mosaic of wings.
I am learning, perhaps, to better greet
these visitors and laugh as you suggest.
Sometimes I even get excited to hear
the doorbell ring. And sometimes when I hear
footsteps at the door, I run to the closet,
curl myself into a ball, cover myself with old coats
and boots and shudder.
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