There You Are

By Jalalu'l-Din Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

The Book of Love : Poems of ecstasy and longing You’re inside every kindness. When a sick
person feels better, you’re that,

and the onset of disease too. You’re sudden,
terrible screaming. Some problems require

we go for help. When we knock on a stranger’s
door, you sent us. Nobody answers. It’s

you! When work feels necessary, you
are the way workers move in rhythm.

You are what is: the field, the players,
the ball, those watching. Someone claims to

have evidence that you do not exist.
You’re the one who brings the evidence in,

and the evidence itself! You are inside
the soul’s great fear, every natural

pleasure, every vicious cruelty. Someone
loves something, someone else hates

the same. There you are. Whatever anyone
wants or not: political power, injustice,

material possessions, those are your script,
the handwriting we study. Body, soul,

shadow. Whether reckless or careful,
you are what we do. It’s absurd to ask

your pardon. You’re inside repentance,
and sin! The wonder of various jewels,

agate, emerald. How we are during the day,
then at night, you are those moods and

the pure compassion we feel for each
other. Every encampment has a tent

where the leader is, and also the wide
truth of your imperial tent overall.


A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back secrets: everything
has to do with loving and not loving.

This night will pass.
Then we have work to do.


There’s a shredding that’s really a healing,
that makes you more alive!

A lion holds you in his arms.
Fingers rake the fretbridge for music.


Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance, in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.


All I know of spirit
is this love.