A Poem for National Poetry Day

Tending Two Shops

by Rumi

 

Don’t run around this world

looking for a hole to hide in.

There are wild beasts in every cave!

If you live with mice,

the cat claws will find you.

The only real rest comes

when you’re alone with God.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,

even though you have an address here.

That’s why you see things in two ways.

Sometimes you look at a person

and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,

and you’re both right!

Everyone is half and half,

like the black and white ox.

Joseph looked ugly to his brothers,

and most handsome to his father.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,

and eyes that judge distances,

how high and how low.

You own two shops,

and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that’s a fearful trap,

getting always smaller. Checkmate,

this way. Checkmate that.

Keep open the shop

where you’re not selling fishhooks anymore.

You are the free-swimming fish.

 

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