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Open Window, Collioure, by Matisse

What Was Told, That

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

–Jalalu’l-din Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

Reading this poem feels like a big window flung open in an overheated room. Yes, Rumi has become the most popular poet in America, and yes, it is easy for even the gifted to suffer from overexposure. But I’m moved by this poem and so grateful for the breathing room it affords.

I’ll return to heads down, of this world thinking tomorrow. Maybe.

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