You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?
If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.
Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,
the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses
the angel stops whispering for a moment —
The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully —
You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind —
Kazim Ali, “Ramadan” from The Fortieth Day. Copyright © 2008 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., https://www.boaeditions.org
Source: The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions Ltd., 2008)