A Thirsty Fish

A Thirsty Fish

from The Essential Rumi translation by Coleman Barks

I don’t get tired of you. Don’t grow weary
of being compassionate toward me!

All this thirst equipment
must surely be tired of me,
the waterjar, the water carrier.

I have a thirsty fish in me
that can never find enough
of what it’s thirsty for!

Show me the way to the ocean!
Break these half-measures,
these small containers.

All this fantasy
and grief.

Let my house be drowned in the wave
that rose last night out of the courtyard
hidden in the center of my chest.

Joseph fell like a moon into my well.
The harvest I expected was washed away.
But no matter.

A fire has risen above my tombstone hat.
I don’t want learning, or dignity,
or respectability.

I want this music and this dawn
and the warmth of your cheek against mine.

The grief armies assemble,
but I’m not going with them.

This is always how it is
when I finish a poem.
A great silence overcomes me,
and I wonder why I ever thought
to use language.

[copyright HarperOne, 1997]

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