Dervish and Whirling Tree


I ascend toward the madness of trees

A madman’s smile turns to trees

and all its leaves fall down

to the forehead of the earth,

I yellow among them.


The loneliness of the tree is innocent and untouched

It comes near to my bruised darkness,

whose winter rime, after the fall

of forty snows, rhymes with nothing


When I ascend into the madness of the tree

I bathe in my exhaustion

I bath in wisdom to my teeth

I wash my face and get ready for prayer

Prayer climbs up from the weight

Of my impatience lips,

to the madness of the tree.

It stays there.


I was told that the mother of the tree

Was a child, a daughter of innocence, a dove,

a dove brooding where it is always rainy,

where it is always white,

so that her prayers are the prayers of a dove.


When I am filled with the dove’s madness

—at the turn of the millennium here in Herat—

the tree becomes a girl, solid and tangible,

a girl who drinks fire, and the taste

of whose strands, a talisman, is of ashes.


I lean to the wall—the wall here in my room—

its tongue cracks ,

words become soggy and tired

the wind opens its lips

the tree climbs up to the madness

of my body and I smile.

My eyes smiling springs.


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