Amma Sarah Rebukes the Philosophers – a poem by Cynthia Sowers

II.            Amma Sarah Rebukes the Philosophers
 from 'Saints' Tales: Dialogues in Solitude'
 
The desert offers no escape
from desire,
but its precise location.
In emptiness,
there are no substitutes
and no satisfaction.
 
In emptiness
the hidden mouth of desire
yawns and gulps,
famished, desperate;
the very source -
and the threshold.
 
From time to time
I discover that wind and sand
have stirred around me
in undulant waves,
obscuring the mouth.
 
Then I must dig with my hands
through this glittering cloud,
pull the single strand I have laid down
to mark the place
through an infinite multitude 
of points and strokes,
the mirage of alphabets,
scattering my eyes and my heart,
that would sift me and fling me
like itself, here and there,
with which perhaps I could
for several decades
be satisfied and deluded -
before knowing.
 
Even a grain of sand,
you Wise Men,
is a substitute
and a brief satisfaction
which stands in the empty space
that I must mark with my line
and dig to uncover,
where uncovered,
naked, and complete,
I enter my cell
and lift my eyes.

Cynthia Sowers was a Senior Lecturer at the Residential College of the University of Michigan until retirement in 2019. Five of her poems were published in the inaugural issue of the Solum Journal (Fall 2020). https://cynthiasowers.rc.lsa.umich.edu/

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