Slant Light

Nathaniel Tarn

                                          for Forrest Gander

 "I left this world for the earthly and the next for the

heavenly and set foot in a place where there was no

room for the created."

                    Sheykh Abu'l-hassan KharaqŠni


Fall darkness over Isfahan,

fall darkness over Kandahar -

the shining path between.


Long ago, in a foreign city.

Each star a suffering human

unvisited because of light years.


Long ago, in Isfahan, each

passageway rose-haunted,

slant light down ruffling


leaves, rippling fountains,

shines on the conversations -

yet knowledge ever disappearing


over the earth's horizons

so that the death

since doomed to constancy


requires a life to balance it.

We do not die because we live

but live because we die.


(In Kandahar, blue tiles

bathed in blood glaze

defy the wretch "imagination.")


Not sure of how to talk:

beauty discussing itself,

truth discussing itself,


truth's quest re beauty's relevance.

Wise men down-slanting:

 what solitudes, dear friend, what solitudes!


Men talking bathed in light,

profile illuminated,

right hand against a market column.


As when reason arises

a bloom out of itself

or the waters open:


word coming out of itself,

out newly minted phrase,

or sentence freshly argued.


Silence world's core

which cannot now be broken -

yet, out of darkness, sails arise.


Walls of the sky

slant down on Isfahan

sky's ceilings


in which the sun is bathing -

a newborn child

freshly delivered


has stolen everything from men,

stolen their life.

Each star a suffering human


for love created,

smothered in hatred.

And the abandonment


become the need to be abandoned

and after many years

abandonment again.


Past brazen heat of India

snow caps on turquoise domes.

Just found the cure for loss,


just purchased the true medicine.

Time finally stands still

exhausted by the passage of the sun,


hand reaches for the undisclosed description

the never-altered revelation

of what it has to do for to be done.