It’s a long way to the caravan serai
so you stop in at a small café
along the starry road to astonishment.
You tie your camel and step inside …
The sudden fragrance of rose
seizes you with bittersweet nostalgia.
Just a handful of dusty travelers here –
Two drunks and a poet at first glance.
They greet you with a smile
and a nod that says,
“We know what you’ve been through
to get this far …”
then they sip wine that glows in the glass
and makes their eyes shine with luminous silence that says,
“We’ve already been where you’re going.”
Somewhere in the back room
a lone dervish whirls round and round
to misty music pouring down
from a secret sky.
You smile and pull up a chair –
A jovial bartender sets your glass.
And the poet fills it to the brim
with words from a wine bottle
he keeps hidden in his shirt.
He knows you’re thirsty
for words that speak to your ecstasy,
for words that intoxicate
and leave you forever lost
to the world you once loved.
He knows the exact place
on this journey
where you threw away the schoolbooks
you had on your back.
There’s a huge pile of schoolbooks there
left by each traveller
who stopped trying to make love
by the book of arithmetic
and began to travel light.
Oh, this poet knows
the kind of words you need to hear
by the time you arrive at this café!
Words that make your gaze distant
and wet with remembrance
of the Lover you left behind
so long long ago
and who waits for you still
at the end of this starry starry road …