Landscapes With Saints

Mean as knives, his burnished limbs
rotted and stank when the gateman came
to call his number. Gorakh forgot
his body was just a borrowed suit,
one size too large.

*

He's forgotten the river pilot's song.
He's above parrot gossip,
beyond the hawk's warning cry.
Wrapping himself in the torn fabric of sky,
Kabir climbs on.

*

Dropping his nimbus in the grass, he looks
at the boats riding the stream below:
close enough to touch.
When the road ends,
Tuka takes a deep breath and leaps.

*

She sees a boatman rowing in sand,
shielding his skiff from the ocean's roar.
Such a safe harbour, brother, sings Lalla,
it saves you the trouble
of charting your course.

*

His eyes would not rest on a quatrain of walls
and scanned the desert air instead:
mango trees balancing on their heads;
himself, Khushru,
a bird of paradise judged by earth.

*

Neglect leafs through his pages. Perfumes escape
from phials left unstoppered
on his shelves. Lead crumbles
in Attar's mind; his hands,
wherever they rest, touch gold.

*

A torn cotton robe against the wind;
his limbs, nettle-pricked, transparent as prayers.
His name burnt out,
Milarepa sings to himself
as he travels the centuries.

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