The world trembles with the caprices of warriors. I am sitting between my temple walls.
I have sat here 30 years, breathing the smoke of the fire pit I have built. When it burns out, I press my fingers in the soot and stroke them on my head and face.
Down my shaved head, forehead and nose. Across my brow, over my eyes.
At that time I set my head down to sleep. The walls shake and debris litters the floor by my weave mat.
My dreams are never material but constellations.
On the wall I have written long ago,
“What is intoned by the air breathed through the vocal cord of the earth.”
I know the time that has passed because of the movement of the sun.
No time has passed.
In the morning it is quiet again. I pick the raised gardens. Some of it feeds me and some of it feeds the walls. I mash the petals to make paint. The flowers that grew were the color of blood. Once it dries on the wall, it darkens, brown. Some of my first words and pictures have faded into nothing. The sun has turned me the color of the soil.
They have always said that it was born of a virgin, on the winter solstice. Three magi followed the star of the east to its ascent. Eons have turned in cycles of twelve, their shining bodies spinning in the black screen around the face of God. They dance when he dies. They dance while he sleeps for three days. They still dance around him each time he is reborn.
He struggles with night and it overtakes him, he overtakes it, in cycles of twelve hours. When the planes of night emerge from the year, the Earth turns cold.
Ten thousand megathousand.
Each people with each language call him by a different name.
We have always spun around the sun
And the warring peoples throw their little lights against the screen of black.
I am breathing in the smoke of the fire pit,
Om mani padme humm,
Here where I am enshrined by the tapestries I have weaved and the blood of flowers I smear on the stone in shifting configurations.
“What the fire breathes on flesh of flesh.”
And the words shake, these walls have always shook,
Each day and month and year of my life between the stone walls and raised gardens, I smeared blood, and I shook,
I ate grain, and I shook,
Mashed the petals and I shook and inlet outlet the lotus and shook, and my floor was littered with the crushed debris of the stone, and I pressed my fingers on the dying ember,
Down my shaved head, forehead and nose,
Across my brow, over my eyes.
The first year has passed that these lights have painted white blood on the black sky.
Not a moment
After a cycle of twelve years he began to teach. At the period of my age he was baptized in the moving water
And then cluster bombs lit the night in false rays, the sun glowered that his strong arms were dispossessed, burning holes in the shield around the Earth, boiling the oceans.
He entered the temple of human beings and in his furor he overturned the tables.
The corroding earth with its searing cracks beneath their feet moved the people to uprising and they are attempting to blot out the sun. White flame spread through the atmosphere from their arms, white blood spilled across the field of the sky from their veins.
“The life of creatures
Precedes the life of atoms.”
Down my shaved head
Across my brow.
Today the foods in the garden have all died. The air has turned poisonous with the white blood of fire. The sun has turned dim and it has stopped raining. I turn over the soil with my hoe and then retire into my temple walls. The surface of the Earth has been cleansed incalculable thousands of times and the Earth still lives. I breathe in the smoke of my fire pit. Dry wood is still here. Fire is the element that remains.
In seclusion amidst the dark matter of space the sun faced the spirit of the ego.
It fired flaming arrows at him and they were turned into lotus blossoms.
It paraded seductresses before him and they withered into ash.
While he lives, he engulfs everything that enters his domain.
And even he must die.
Night falls on his luminosity and he is hung from its crude structure before the eyes of the Earth and he sinks, Sinks,
And then on the third day,
He always rises.
Through all languages, and with all names, he always rises. History turns and turns in cycles of twelve. Twelve hours. Twelve years. Twelve eons. And the twelve constellations that spin
“The names of the disciples
Are unpronounceable by our tongues.”
The paint is growing thin because there have not been new petals in weeks.
Smeared down my shaved head,
As ever before.
Across my brow,
As ever before.
I breathe in the poison air.
My lungs sting.
I am serene.
The walls shake with the caprices of warriors.
My temple walls crumble upon my head.
I am preserved in the ashen debris of a long-fallen temple, cast on the black sky. Here I have sat. Ten thousand megathousand. No human being passes on this mountain so no eyes see me sitting, my eyelids shut and back straight, nostrils no longer intaking oxygen. No eyes fall on this form rising from the rock. No voice crosses this air. No vibration touches this ground. Nothing is intoning
Bessam Idani is an artist and political organizer from New York. He is the author of two novels, Self and Under the Sun, and the composer or co-composer of three albums, "Nondivision," "Heart, Mind," and "Again-Awakening-Am." His upcoming novel, The Sword and the Neck, is set for release in 2022. His journalistic and analytical works have appeared in whyy.org, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Arab America, OMAAT Magazine, and other publications. His work as a visual artist is also featured on ninshar.art. He lives and works in Philadelphia.