There was a voice and it coursed
from a pair of parched lips,
drawing me out of my body.
The voice was despotic, uncurbed
as a horse dragging my soul
across rocks and up scree.
I don't know why the voice,
the maker, drew me as unroofed,
as a vagrant, a fool,
or why it split me in two
and then drew me from you,
sliding the earth in between us.
It sketched a door of death then
and depicted me nailed to the door -
but that wasn't enough so it rubbed us out
and started from the beginning,
drawing us in the likeness of doves,
caged in separate cages.
It wasn't enough
so it drew me with neither wings nor feathers
but it wasn't enough
so it dashed us to pieces
and drew me as your son, you as my father,
and a moment later I was a stone
and you were a star shining down on me,
making me into the most precious thing...
It wasn't enough.
It drew you as a desert and me as a breeze
on the long wander through you.
It wasn't enough. It erased us
and sketched me as a cup of tea,
full of good and full of evil,
and made you the sugar that sank in me
and got dissolved and finally we
were lifted up to a pair of parched lips
The literal translation of this poem was made by Hamid Kabir
The final translated version of the poem is by Nick Laird
In this poem the painter is in fact the creator (God) and the canvas is life full of struggle for love. It ends with togetherness in the cup of tea and, according to Sufism, when the lover and beloved reach one another they become one with God - hence the cup of tea with dissolved sugar being drunk by the painter.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2014