“An Armor of Roses” (Rumi)

Take January’s advice. Stack wood. Weather inevitably turns cold, and you make fires to stay healthy. Study the grand metaphor of this yearly work.

Wood is a symbol for absence. Fire for your love of God.

We burn form to warm the soul. Soul loves winter for that, and accepts reluctantly the comfort of spring, with its elegant, proliferating gifts.

All part of the plan: fire becoming ash, becoming garden soil, becoming mint, willow, and tulip.

Love looks like fire. Feed yourself into it. Be the fireplace and the wood.

Bravo, for this metallurgy

that makes a needle from an iron ingot.

Calm fire now. For the moth, a window. For you, an armor of roses.

Pharaoh dissolves like yogurt in water. Moses comes to the top like oil.

Fine Arabians carry royalty. Nags, the sacks of dried dung.

Language is an annoying clatter in the mill of meaning. A silent river turns the millstone.

The word-grains get noisily dumped in the tray, pulverized under the stone as gossip.

Let this poem be thus ground. Let me go back to the love-fire

that refines the pure gold of my friend, Shamsuddin.

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