Thursday, May 20, 2010

Startled in the Shatter

glass bangles

Rabia of Basra grew up in ancient Mesopotamia. She is credited for being a major influence on the poet Rumi. Rabia, a woman of remarkable beauty, wrote many poignant poems about God.

She is also quoted as writing, "Show me where it hurts, God said, and every cell in my body burst into tears before His tender eyes."

Rabia had a hard life, after all. She somehow became separated from her parents at a very young age, was sold into slavery, and was used in a brothel until she was about 50 years old. Some say that her freedom was bought by a wealthy patron.

When did Rabia find God, and how? I tried to imagine the disturbing answers to these questions, in...

"Rabia's Confession"

You came to me in marbled echo
of their footsteps, smoothed leather
sandals removed and placed at arched
doors. I felt your presence in ruby
silk they expected me to wear,
gold-threaded, unwrapped
by hands that searched
for eternity in my breasts,
jasmine sweat, skin like

Sometimes when in haste,
they lowered themselves
too hard, too fast,
Your voice startled in the small
shatter of a glass bangle
that fell from my wrist
with a 'clink, clink, clink,'
taking with it the tiniest offering
of blood.

Glass Bangles photo, by L.L. Barkat.

HighCallingBlogs' Glass Bangles, Silver Arms: Poetry on the Ancients

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Blogger sarah said...

she sounds like an amazing woman. thanks for another poem from you :-)

3:24 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

It is heartbreakingly (spell check is cross with me for using this incorrect word) beautiful L.L.
It is a dark, drizzly sort of day here,and I sat for a few minutes with your book of poetry. It is just lovely.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you went and took me with you.

i love the shot, the texture, colour, light surrounded by black black.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haunting and gorgeous.

Can't stop thinking about this.

Thank you.


7:13 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

sliding in under the gate:

When I first started reading Love Poems from God, Rabias story took me. And this one, an excerpt:

It Acts Like Love

It acts like love--music,
it reaches toward the face, touches it, and tries to let you know
His promise: that all will be okay.

and it goes on to further take my breath away.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

was it Chesterton who said every 'every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God'?

'breasts of eternity' indeed.

You made her pain tangible.

I must read both of them.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

I hear the clink and I wonder all the more...I shall have to read about her too. So curious now.

I couldn't leave well enough alone. I didn't like my first try- almost a rough sketch. So I went back and tried to 'see' and 'hear' and touch and tell. Don't know if I got there, but I like this one all the more!

9:08 PM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

just re-reading it again and again


12:39 AM  
Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

What an incredible woman. What a beautiful tribute to her.



9:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is an amazing story of faith. I think its a really good reminder of how there is always hope, even in the darkest situations. This woman is truly bearer of a powerful testimony that can touch so many that have also walked in her shoes.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous suzy said...

Oooh such beauty.
I LOVE Rumi. Well, who couldn't :)
Thank you for introducing me to
Rabia of Basra and her inspired poetry today.

5:14 AM  

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