You will meet people,
keep it simple, make eye contact,
touch their hand, push your hair back.
They may ask questions.
You can tell a person by their questions.
“Where has the money gone?”
Say, “There was no money.”
“No not ever.”
“What should I say if they ask uhm. . . more?”
“Say the truth”
“If they ask where have I been, what should I tell them?”
“Tell them you’ve been right here all along, beside me. They will understand.”
Desire is an ancient city with four gates
The Gate of Longing
The Gate of Rage
The Gate of Resignation
The Mercy Gate.
You don’t get the choice often
Go in the last gate.
You will know the others already there
milling under the yellow stone arches
Take your time, take mine as well,
watch as people pass
And no matter what
you will give two shekels to whoever is legless, or blind or widowed.
And in the market it will be confused and hot,
piled with sacks of red lentils and barrels of olives.
There will be a war just started or just ended
and the soldiers around the market will speak
either in the patois of defeat or victory.
Seasoned by experience they know “to endure”
does not always mean to outlast.
It can also mean to forgive the hand that swung the club
and to know in the future to move aside.
This is how it has always been for someone
and at this time you are the one.
Never be the first to arrive anywhere.
Do this because you do not come from pioneers
but from survivors that follow behind,
gleaners that take what has been dropped along
another’s way and
from this we eat we understand.
So many last minute things I have meant to say,
re: fabric: woven together linen and wool are forbidden.
Wisely, I know you pick wool
it will be cool in heat and warm in cold
Remember the rule,
the sense of distance, that awareness
arrives and awakens
only by wanting something closer.
Many thanks to my dear friend Brittany Newmark for making this eloquent & compelling poem available to Robert Frost's Banjo. Thanks, Brittany!