The Caribbean Writer

Sufi Meditation: the Arcades of Saint Croix

Patricia Gill


Greece was rectangles,
Egypt triangles.
Rumi, my teacher,
favors the arch.

Desert-born nomads we danced
away madness, traveled, traded;
created, in Persia, spacious palaces,
transforming the trunk of the palm tree
into resolute columns, fronds stretching
skyward then earthward,
submissive, unbroken.

We tent-sleepers molded the cold
white marble of India. Taj Majal
in the moonlight, shining
like noonlight, curving tenderly
over the loved one, bejeweled
monument conveying
undying passion.

In Spain, sandswept warriors slept
by pools mirroring flowers,
fountains capturing sunlight, birds
singing wild in tiled courtyards.
Alhambra, our fortress, our refuge,
archive and council hall,
avatar for an empire.

We dispelled the trivial
from the Hagia Sofia, cleansing
the alcoves of intrusive
icons, purifying space so barefoot
pilgrims and truth-worshippers
could view unobstructed
the expanding blue.

Our philosophers, confronting
the unknown with numbers, solved
the algebraic equation. Chemists, seeking
meaning in metals, discovered the gold
in mutation, recognized the mystery
of metamorphosis, life
in manifold forms.

From the East, with the sunrise, came
troubadors singing of brave men, women
worthy of devotion. Music rose from streets,
bombarding balconies, lightening lives
of peasants, pontiffs and monarchs,
tales of romance and magic revealing reality:
no poem without love.

Our smoldering poets ignited
the Renaissance northward; aware
of the soul’s darkness, illuminated
minds in the maelstrom. Warding off
winter, we built arcades over walkways
where worlds meet and mingle,
where hope jostles fear.

On this sun-blazed island
arcades shade poets, travelers, traders.
Rumi, amalla,
I linger and learn.


Copyright © Patricia Gill

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