Another poem for Ramadan, entitled “Ramadan,” by Kazem Ali. This one plays with the concept of “the Night of Power,” or Laylat al-Qadr, the night in Ramadan where the heavens are opened for prayers to be answered, a night filled with angels, inhospitable to djinn or other evil influences. This night is not named directly, but the fact that one never knows exactly which night it will be is clear in the poem.
By Kazim Ali
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?
If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.
Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,
the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—
The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—
You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—