James K. Baxter: ‘Shalimar’

baxter-1

Shalimar 
Guava slices pierced by a straw
Eaten with rough salt and lemon;
This orchard where the trees have made
Stadium, refectory, high tent
For water carrier and camel boy. 
The mind’s great door is swinging now.
  
The musical water washes
From mouth and hands and heart
Memory of the peine forte et dure
Experienced in life. With balls of clay
The bearded guardian scatters birds.
  
Long waiting, brief illumination:
Outside the grass hut rustles on the ground
An empty snakeskin. Characters of fire
Without origin, without curb,
On the soul’s narrow walls
Blaze, as the sun strides in a broken house.
  
I AM THE CUP THAT HOLDS YOUR PAIN,
JANUA COELI, STAR OF TRUTH.
I AM THE ARK, THE STRONGHOLD OF THE KING,
I AM THE VOID WHERE LIGHT IS BORN.

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