“Like This.” Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Rumi as a child fled to Turkey to escape the Mongol invader Genghis Khan. After Rumi’s death in 1273, his followers organized the Sufi sect that he had founded, the Mawlawiyah, known to the West as the whirling dervishes for their ecstatic religious dancing and recitation of verse.
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point:
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?
How did Jacob’s sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.