Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Market, and the Room of Coveted Objects.

(This is a short poem of vaguely Sufi or Buddhistic character.  The image above is of Paul Bowles in Morocco.)

There is a rumour in the squares
Of upheaval, of some great change
Undermining all the old foundations
So that they will crumble down
Around us, and never raise their
Familiar forms again.

But this, too, is an ancient rumour
Spoken each summer in the squares
Someday perhaps, the squares will
Be empty, and their fountains dry;
I cannot imagine such a time.

I have gone to the stalls, every day now
For many years, to see what is new
Beneath their awnings;
I have never tired of browsing among
The wares, seeking out some novel
Object that I might possess,
Or long to possess, dreaming always
More acutely of those things that were
Deemed precious beyond my means.

When my mood is low, I am apt to think
That there is never any new thing in the stalls
Only the sensation I experience of finding
Some novel object of desire, a sensation
I have experienced many times before
So that it is not like going somewhere along a straight track
But rather a kind of pattern, as is woven by a shuttle, or a melody
That makes no progress, and only returns to the beginning

One of the dervishes told me
That a place exists where all the things
I have ever desired, yet failed to
Acquire, are all gathered together
In a room, that I might partake of
them, to my heart’s content, if
Only I could find that place.

“If it were an object” he said
“That object is there.  If it were
A person, that person is there
Waiting to turn their will to
Whatever purpose you
Had designed for them”

I asked him how I might
Find such a place, or if it were
Possible to travel there, and
He said “That room is always there 
Filled with your heart’s desires, and
You go there only by ceasing to
Desire the things that it contains.

Each thing you cease to desire
Brings you a step closer to that room;
And as you cease to desire a thing,
It vanishes from the room, so that
When you have finally taken all the steps
To arrive there, the objects of your
Desire have fled, and the room is bare.”

A related poem "No More Street Shows."

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