On Love, For Those Who Wander

by Aqeela Naqvi

With each passing day I can’t seem to find a difference
between lonely stones and the empty heart that I live in
a heart whose blood beats its way through hollow veins
but it’s not beating, it’s beaten, its sees losses as gains
It’s a fighter with thirty seconds left on the clock
no peripheral vision with which it’s opponent to block
it’s an artist painting a portrait of the slithering Rhine
fumbled strokes of a river whose end’s out of his sight
it’s a blind man whose eyes are now raised up above
feels the warmth on his face but says he can’t see the sun
it’s a broken mirror held up to a cage made of gold
a shattered reflection of an endlessly withering soul
 
A soul wondering what it’s willing to give or to take
to withstand again and again this slow heartbreak
in order to mend what is shattered, sew up the wounds
set straight what does not matter, walk nearer to You
as I stare in this mirror at dark eyes that now question
is it body or soul that stares back in this reflection?
I wonder what other-worldly mention will I receive
when skies darken and earth cries realizing its need
when stars extinguish like old streetlights giving way
to a storm of snowflakes falling soft, gently they sway
 
Sway against my face ashes, relics charred and torn
of burning fires that burned, still burn, were borne
in my heart for You. To call it love, do I dare be so bold?
Dare to name this love as something I presume to know?
A few heartbeats and tears shed and I deem myself master
is this emotion real only if it causes my heart to beat faster?
Then what of the moments when its pulsing stops altogether,
and the pain of longing confounds like a lead-weighted feather?
 
A feather my weight in the face of this powerful storm
a great, terrible beauty in which soldiers of love are born
thunder frightens, but lightning clears now my vision
to a heart full of divisions, calls for revisions, precision
I’ve heard of is love and not love and seems love
and then love, and now love, and will love,
but what’s love without love of One who is above?
that true love which dead men all know of and speak of.
 
Of a love that will witness angel’s wings spread over the skies
will discover that only through dying do we become truly alive
would that love be my pillared fortress, my banner, my flag
to prevent me from the hardship of in Your eyes being last?
Would it withstand the breaking of the shackles of my heart?
Would it still praise You if I’m told that from You I must depart?
 
If arrows weaved through my body, would I cry out in pain?
Or would I kiss every wound and recognize it as gain?
If my flesh was cut – a thousand pieces – my world set aflame,
My ashes scattered to the wind, only to have repeated the same,
Would my love stand that great test? Could I endure that pain?
With hands tied, witness to brothers, nephews, and sons slain
Could I raise my head to the sky and with a true lover’s gaze
Cry out, “All praise be to the One who is worthy of praise!”
 
Praise You if I did in every labyrinth of the mind
In all grief and distress, if refuge only in You did I find
Could I name that as true love? Yes, that! That is love.
The love mystics and ancients did always speak of:
the was love, and is love, and will always be love
that lives in the one separation has taken a hold of
that yearns for the One that distance has deprived of
that plagues the heart that grief has ridden abreast of
that whispers, “It is You, only You, only You that I love.”

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