(Saj‘ Šadîqtî ’ajnabî)1
We started off together like gypsies in a camp of many colors; we were fairies we were humans we were canaries we were badgers, we were stones peering from leaf-lidded eyes at a world like lightning flashing by. We were light bulbs in our own minds, we were lovely clouds stylized as in Persian miniatures of legends of kings of ancient times, when still the world was fresh and green, so green, greener than it ever was before or since the April rains, the first we ever saw.
We remember that shimmering day as if it was the only day. We were spiders we were Cyclopes; we were dogs wearing high-tops; we were aspens’ quaking leaves as we chatted to each other in words as subtle as the breeze. We remember those days, those were the Last Days, those were past days.
We were rainbow-colored streamers dancing down from Sun’s corona to kiss the Earth’s aurora humming from between her snow-blue lips. We danced as rainbow-colored banners, as the red-blue-yellow feathers of the tail-fan that lingers long after trailing wings, star-spangled, of the mythical Simorgh—the Persian bird so beautiful we only speak of her under the magic spell of potions that appear as wisps of smoke in crystal balls; we only speak of her in vague half-rumors, shadow-words in corners
Half-shaded by naked light bulbs yellowing the urinals in the Sharpie-tattooed scratch paint stalls of bathrooms in the lung-hazed clubs we go to on those days when we feel young, and free of definitions, free of reason free of knowing free of yessing, free of pimping free of ho-ing, free of anything at all, free of feeling big or small, free of crying free of kissing, free of hustling free of fronting, free of backing down free of watching our backs.
We drifted free like this, as energy pure and driftless, always knowing exactly who or what we were, though we changed from moment to moment like fireflies drift in May meadows, and we were exactly that— ephemeral lights of fireflies, on and off and off and on, never in the same spot twice. We were only signal lights, not the bulb, not the bug itself, only what our insect friend emitted.
Somehow we snapped out of that endless day’s spell; time was passing and we looked around, felt a surge of wanting, like the blooming of a flower, to emerge into a world of water, rock and sunlight; solid. The flanks of blue electric waves and salty froth surged over us, in rank after rank, like Chinese human-wave attacks.
We felt aware of wars and intrigues, yes, clandestine treacheries, forces acting for, against us; friends and foes always blending one with the other, and we wondered as we huddled together; what is this place and what are we in for? Aware of young aware of old, aware of belonging aware of alone, aware of courage aware of shame, and so afraid of fear–
O my dear let me hold you. O my dear I’ll never leave you—o my dear if something snatches you away, I promise I’ll come after for you, I don’t care how many eons I don’t care how many guardians of however-deep abysses, how many glowering warlords of however many bridges, and demons and nasty whores hissing promises to deliver what they’ve never known, what they claim they own but only stole.
Oh my dear, if something ever steals you away, I’ll come after for you; I don’t care how many lifetimes, how many forms how many faces, how many tears forlorn or smiles care-worn or ligaments torn— promise me we’ll both remember;
We are the light of fireflies, of raucous clubs and lovely minds, of birds of myth, and Sun’s auroral light as light as feathers, themselves alight as stars, up high beyond our outstretched hands—weightless. What can not be touched and measured is essentially weightless.
1 Saj’ is an ancient Arabic form of oral recitation originally used by soothsayers and sorcerers in casting spells and incantations. Later it was adopted by Islamic jurists and even used for some suras of the Qur’an. It is a meter-less type of ‘rhymed prose’—this is my experiment in adapting the form in English poetry