Morning in the Desert (a poem)

Watching the horizon, bright sun rising above
baking the desert this lonely morning

I came here for mystical union, total silence
but the mighty sun cares not this morning

What of the Desert Fathers, who searched for love
retreated to their cells in the morning?

Did they unlock secrets, away from violence
find perfect solitude in quiet mornings?

I’ve read their books, listened to their tales,
but the words escape me this morning

I want my eyes to be removed of scales,
like St. Paul seeing Jesus in the morning

But I am no monk, no, far from it,
I wake, smoke cigarettes in the mornings

I am an addict, one of broken spirit,
my mind races furiously every morning

When will I heal, come to my peace,
not wake feeling dread each morning?

I’m here in this desert, looking for release
from a thousand dejected mornings

The sky a bruised purple, the rising sun
nothing but empty space this morning

I let go of fears, they weigh like a ton
alas, peace will not come this morning

Cross-legged I sit, the journey’s never done,
one day at a time, each and every morning.

(Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash)

Author’s Note: I got the idea for this poem from a prompt on the Poets & Writers website. The form of the poem is a ghazal, a medieval Arabic and Persian form. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase. I didn’t follow the ghazal form perfectly, as I made up my own rhyme scheme, but I gave it a shot. I modeled this poem after “Tonight” by Agha Shahid Ali, which I found on the Poetry Foundation website.

On a side note, I’ve never been to a desert, but I’ve always been interested in that landscape as a place of spiritual longing. I’ve also always been interested in the Desert Fathers, the early Christian hermits and monks who retreated to the Egyptian desert around the 3rd Century AD. The Desert Fathers became the model for Christian monasticism.

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