Indian Hospice


Yesterday it rained so hard
Lemons spilt from the lemon tree
And rolled all over cobble stones in my Jerusalem courtyard.

I thought of Baba Farid
Who came on a pilgrimage centuries ago.
In a hole cut from rock by the room where I sleep,

He stood for forty days and nights
Without food or drink. Nothing for him was strange
In the way his body slipped into a hole in the ground,

And nothing was not.
Rust in the stones and blood at the rim of his tongue.
In the humming dark

He heard bird beaks stitching webs of dew.
Sharp hiss of breath let out from a throat,
Whose throat he did not know.

Was it his mother crying out O Farid, where are you now?
She had done that when he swung
Up and down, knees in a mango tree,

Head in the mouth of a well,
Singing praises to God.
Crawling out of his hole there were welts on his cheeks,

And underfoot in bedrock - visionary recalcitrance.
A lemon tree shook in a high wind.
Under it, glistening in its own musk, the black iris of Abu Dis.

Wild with the scents of iris and lemon he sang - O Farid
This world is a muddy garden
Stone, fruit and flesh all flaming with love.