I don't remember when I discovered this poem or how I discovered it. I only know that somehow it came to me and it had such an impact on me that I don't remember a time when this poem wasn't with me. Even though I know I must have read it sometime in college, it seemed to reverberate back into my history and set up camp there and flash like a lighthouse in the dark.
This poem is called "Like This" and it is by Rumi Jelalludin, a Persian Sufi mystic who met a wandering dervish named Shams Tabrizi who would teach him to experience the divine by living life like a poem.
Shams was with him only a short time, but Rumi began writing poetry after his departure.
Before I met my wife April, I had my own Shams. His name was Roody. He taught me to appreciate myself and find joy in being myself and to live as if I were a poem. He would have wanted him to be thought of as a Jack Kerouac kind of guy. But, no, I believe he was more of a Shams kinda guy. After I met April, he disappeared, in much the same way that Shams did. But he left a lasting impression.
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.
When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?
How did Jacob’s sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us