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The Things We Do for Love

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Translation of Light

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Other Poems by Ruhama

Why the Boddhisattva Came to Battery Street: 7:55 AM

This street’s a river, running with waves of faces
In a hurry busy morning to work downtown,
Cases and bags and heads packed with papers
Clattering off to desks and hard drives
Born beings, torn from soft bed heavens of sleep and sex,
Gone to showers and shaves, poured into this rushing current
Wires trailing from their ears,
They study their palms like oracles
Smelling of sweet rolls and dark-roasted coffee:
Serious business.

But look! The air is alive
With tiny dancing points of golden light!
The whine and the hum of traffic, the banging of boxes, the horns
Have turned to music,
And even the broken glass by the curb
Is sparkling like diamonds —

Oh people, consider your angelness!
Don’t forget your beatitude:
Empty, you breathe nectar from this downtown air;
Pure, you spin it into honey,
To spread over the earth
Like so many Buddhas.


(from Translation of Light, 2010)