Ramzan Notes, Mid-afternoon, Day 16

Kazim Ali
September 6, 2009
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The blankness of a mind or month.

Month meaning moon or mouth.

Moon not blank of course but marked by many passing objects.

Blank in that the dreams or fears of millenia written on it.

Moon that has no light of its own.

Each Friday the observatory here in town has open hours. I always want to go on the full moon, but my friend Dan who is an astronomer tells me it’s no good to look at the moon when it is full.

Full moons being too bright. Success in Circuit lies–

My mouth blank then as the full moon passes, marking the halfway point through the month of fasting.

We wind down now, we reach further both into ourselves and outward to those around us.

It is a double motion, equal intensity, both at once.

As in yoga postures–open and contract, match inhale for exhale. Make the breath even.

No space marking delineation between inhale and exhale, one shifting in to the other.

Who was it who said God lives between the inhale and the exhale.

If it’s an eddying and swirling place–like the Hudson River estuary that swirls and heads back to the ocean–then where do we look for ourselves?

It’s a sacred month, regardless of fasting, because it is said to be the month in which the revelation of Quran began.

When Gabriel came to the prophet in the cave and said “Read. Read in the name of the One who created you; made you from a clot of blood.”

And what night of the month was that? Well that’s a complicated question.

Supposedly: an odd numbered night in the third week of the month. Cryptic.

So most people repeat the prayers and rituals associated with this night–Lail-ut-al-Qadr–on three different nights, the nineteenth, the twenty-first, and the twenty-third of Ramzan.

Sounds crazy but also beautiful. You say it three times because you don’t know which night is which.

Or as I wrote in a poem called “Ramadan,” “You will never know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting/and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind.”

And the month winds down as well in secret. Last night at dinner one of my friends asked, when do you have to stop fasting?

And I had to explain–the month is not over, Eid does not come, until the first sliver of the new moon is sighted in the sky.

A table of blank faces.

The month had a secret beginning, a secret night in the middle of it, and a secret end.

Maybe this month is not an actual unit of chronological time but a form of metaphor.

And what if it doesn’t matter, which actual night the revelation happened? Maybe the point is that it is every night.

Maybe the moon and the sun only hang in the sky to explain something to us.

Maybe the mouth also, the cells and organs of the body, our bones and muscles, the way we eat and drink and breathe and live, maybe all of it are lines of verse we still have to learn how to read.

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