As salt dissolves in ocean,
I am swallowed up in you
beyond doubt or being sure.
Suddenly, here in my chest a star
came out so clear it drew all stars into it.
—Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks, Say I Am You
It is easy to believe that a star could come out so clear in your chest,
a star so clear it could draw all stars into it, but in my chest? Here?
A star so clear? I don’t think so. No wonder I stumble
each time I try to memorize this line. I don’t think this is humility.
Is it fear? Fear of being responsible to my own light?
Here in my chest my own heart is straining against the cage
of my ribs, pushing hard all the oceans of blood that stay
in the shores of this skin—some interior ocean I am afraid
to go swimming in. “Not past the tip of the nose.” That is what
my teacher says, and time and time again I feel how true it is,
and now, your words like rocks in my mouth, here in my chest,
the same lesson again. I have been dreaming of stars,
dreamt that they were being poured into my mouth, not just the stars
but the spaces between them. Are these the stars of which you speak?
My god, here they are, already they have been given to me, and I am somehow unable to see them, unable to believe my own experience,
unable to unwrap the packaging and receive the gift. Here in my chest—
but these stars are not for me. Not something to make me brighter,
but a light that belongs to everyone. All of us dissolved
into the same ocean, all of us dissolved in the same night.
I can almost touch this, and then it is gone,
there is still too much of me here.
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