In My Heart
When the coals of faith are cooling off inside you;
and you feel like all you do is act a part;
When you’re desperate for one ember that’s still burning –
you will find it, hot and glowing, in my heart.
When you’ve lost that smiling image of yourself,
and you don’t know where to stand or where to start;
When you’re looking for your compass and your candle,
you will find them, safe and protected, in my heart.
When some people label you a failure,
and the accusation pierces like a dart;
There’s one to whom you’ve always been an angel;
I still love you, I still see you, in my heart.
Everything that’s good and sweet about you –
and there’s so much, you’re a living work of art –
is alive in me, I’ve kept it like a songbird,
soaring still and calling in my heart.
The Tall Grass
I could listen all day
to the eucalyptus leaves
rustling in the wind, passing it on.
You said once
that the world was stale and worn,
like a room where everything’s been used.
Sometimes I wonder
if you were speaking of yourself.
I don’t see the world that way,
or you either. At this moment
the clouds in the Eastern sky
are limned with red light
like the edge of a forest fire.
The cows across the road are grazing
in the acres that burned last year.
Now tall green grass grows there.
I know they are slow beasts, barely aware,
but they love their calves,
and they worship in their way.
They are beautiful in their striped coats.
All is beautiful, especially you.
If your world is a stale room
then let me break the door
and carry you into the June sunshine.
Maybe you’re right that everything’s been touched,
but the world renews itself.
The rains wash to the sea,
and all is clean. I know that –
like the acres where the cows graze –
you’ve been burned.
You said you have ten thousand questions
and nowhere to turn. You said
you are a painful mystery to yourself.
That’s okay. None of us have answers,
none of us know our own depths
any more than we know the stars..
You are innocent as a child to me.
You are new, never stained,
the tall grass growing green
on the acres of your soul.
June 11, 2012
Nothing, Only Love
He comes to you with barbs in his skin
and blood on his cheek.
He comes with eyes of loam and gold.
He comes to you again and again,
as a youth and a man.
He has never forgotten you.
He comes with burns on his back
but standing straight,
hiding his scars and his shame,
wearing a half-thawed grin.
He has never stopped thanking you.
He comes with no answers,
with nothing, only love,
a heart like a sun,
and a soul like an African rain.
Will you open your arms to him
and hold him so tightly
that when you let go
he falls down laughing
happy to be alive,
happy to be a father and a man,
happy for you
and for the first time, years ago
that he heard your voice
like the whisper
of a summer wind?
– Wael Abdelgawad, 10-21-2011
Sister Wafa submitted the following poem:
As the Seasons Change
As the seasons change
The leaves turn yellow, orange and brown
the trees are looking bare now
The sky is grey
Winter has arrived outside my door
The most merciful the great is protecting me from it all.
My heart is filled with warmth from his grace upon me.
You are the one and the only that will make the seasons change within my heart.
Everything to Gain
I open to you like a door
on a spring morning.
Your voice is a sun song.
Your words are water and earth.
I hold your heart like a newborn.
I hang on
because I have everything to gain.
Where My Heart Beats
You are the rich soil
from which life grows.
You are the morning snow
on a maple tree.
Your soul glitters before me
like the sun on the sea.
Your name is a kiss,
your voice an embrace.
There is no place for me
in this bewildering life
but in your arms.
There is no corona
more captivating than your eyes.
Where your feet walk,
I find my smile.
Where your head rests,
that is my bed.
Where your hands touch and flutter,
that is where my heart beats,
and if I lived a thousand years
still I would love you
like the evening tide,
immense and ripe with life.
February 15th, 2011
An American bison
The Last Bison
like Venus in the delicate dawn’s light.
You are sunshine
on blue water,
a patch of sky, bright
on a winter day,
shaking off snow.
A flash of flowing robe
and clear eyes.
I am a dark star,
a sculpted bronze
coated in tar,
a stranger than fiction
Truman Capote dream.
I’ve got bitterroot tea
for blood. I’m the last bison
on the vanishing plain,
struck by bullets
from passing trains.
Will I wake one morning
and feel strangely light,
the pain and fright of a lifetime
as if by my native Nile,
leaving me scoured,
pure, blinking like a child?
Will I stand and stretch,
laugh in surprise, and then,
remembering my Lord,
bow and prostrate, purifed?
Wael Abdelgawad, November 2010
Bring It In
Let’s bring it together.
Everything moves in circles,
everything whirls, but sometimes
you cut across the tide
and find yourself in the light
of a strange sun. Bring it in.
Smaller circles, far from the din
of the city, we meet:
your breath and mine,
warm and sweet,
tighter, closer, moving in time
to the galaxy, earth, air,
until we are the center, paired,
and all turns in harmony.
Let’s bring it in, become
lion and lioness, oak and stone,
shelter and home.
Mother and father,
husband and wife,
lover and loved,
passion and fire,
dunya and deen,
family, hearth, laughter
and one true dream.
– Wael Abdelgawad, June 2008
One God, One Deen, One Love
one struggling Ummah
for my overflowing heart
and may Allah
guide her to me
no matter how far
with a smile
and a gentle,
– Wael Abdelgawad
A Prayer for You (is a Prayer for Me)
I pray for you to smile, my queen,
to dream Quran in the night,
wake up and see the light
on the eucalyptus leaves
outside your window, and feel
the current of Allah’s love
turning in you like a water wheel;
because when you smile I am healed,
and so a prayer for you
is a prayer for me too.
When it’s winter in your mind
my heart is chilled and rimed
while my arms yearn to warm you.
When your back is bent and sore
I sense it from distant shores.
When you damn yourself
I have faith in you like a sunrise.
When your eyes well up with tears
mine too are hot as black tea,
so a prayer for you is a prayer for me.
I pray for your chest to rise
with flowered air, your spirit rich
as your chestnut hair. I pray
for you to laugh leafy and long,
your body whole and strong,
sweet as a summer wind,
and your spirit shy but filling in,
raising your head, saying what must
be said. I ask Allah all of this for you,
because I love you, I love you… You see…
a prayer for you is a prayer for me.
– Wael Abdelgawad, March 2010