Say this poem in your chest

It’s a busy week for the Cauldron staff (Kalamazoo College’s literary magazine).  I am in desperate need of sleep and am inclined to hoard my creative energy tonight.  So, here’s one of my favorite poems by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks:


Lovers work, so that when body and soul
are no longer together,
their loving will be free.

Wash in wisdom-water, so you will have no regrets
about the time here.

Love is the vital core of the soul,
and of all you see, only love is infinite.

Your non-existence before you were born
is the sky in the east.

Your death is the western horizon,
with you here between.

The way leads neither east nor west,
but in.

Test your love-wings and make them strong.
Forget the idea of religious ladders.
Love is the roof.  Your senses are waterspouts.

Drink rain directly off the roof.
Waterspouts are easily damaged
and often must be replaced.

Say this poem in your chest.
Don’t worry how it sounds
going through your mouth.

A human body is a bow.
Breathing and speech are arrows.

When the quiver and arrows are used up or lost,
there is nothing more for the bow to do.

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