Waiting for Azaan

After the afternoon drain streets fill
again with approaching dusk
naan-shops open shutters
date carts grow lighter,
children dash on final errands.
Sun-wizened job-hunters wait still
in wheelbarrows
near low-voiced conferences of sheep,
heads bent as if considering their fate.

A boy already a man
washes his feet in the jooey,
red-faced cop pulls man from car
beating him till he pays,
even on Friday, even
in the holy month.
White beards and clustered listeners settle
in unglamorous parlors – blankets spread
on ground or wooden platforms,
No one is alone.

Millions thirst, waiting for azaan,
hoping to trade comfort for favor,
bowing like broken reeds,
offering hearts-full of hunger.
But how many who speak
salaams left and right
rise from prayer-bent knees
with anything but peace
pervading perverse minds?

Don’t shackles on wrists
of God-lovers clatter on
in sharpening darkness,
shab-naamahs piled high,
thickening amid book-stacks
bloody with bickering?
That fast is a cobweb
that will not cover shame.

Ancient seers sung
the fragrant fast:
to welcome nomads,
shatter chains
wrap warmth
make peace
heal –
this is true rooza.

Shadows pass and greet:
qabool boshad!
Accept, oh God!
As dawnlight breaks
and night retreats,
spent worshippers begin again
in the belief
(or fervent hope at least)
that this fast will reach
the greatest heart.

One prayer rests
at the inn of noble Name:
may this hunger
carve a door,
may it open us to grace.

Azaan: call to prayer that signals the day’s end and the breaking of the fast
Jooey: open gutter, also sewage outlet for nearby homes (Dari)
Shab-naamah: night letter (Dari)
Rooza: fast (Dari)
Qabool boshad: literally, “may it be accepted.” A traditional Ramazan greeting is “Rooza wa namaazetan qabool boshad,” or “May your fasting and prayer be accepted.”

**First published in Exit Strata PRINT! Vol. 2 (January 2013), http://www.exitstrata.com/

Purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/Exit-Strata-Print-Vol-2/dp/0985518022/ref=sr_1_1?i...