Tonight while watching the fire on the mountain
Hafiz tapped my shoulder
And asked in silken English,
"Do you have wine?"
There was none to be found
Amid the pale orange glow before us,
So I offered him a soda.
"That will do," he told me.
The mountain rose in a poem of light
Splitting earth from sky
In a long aurora across the peak's spine,
Surrounded by a hundred glowing points
And we sipped quietly.
Each of us read our own meaning into the fire's verse
While pillars of smoke shooed away the stars.
"The moon and wine are most important," Hafiz said
(In Persian -- I nodded as if understanding)
He stirred my soda into space with his finger
And the ice cubes into stars.
"It is no business of mine what you do with your Earth --
Or the magic of flutes,
Or the songs of birds,
Or the salt of your oceans,
Or the ships you will build powered by the sun's furnace --
I am not so wise to instruct you.
But tend to the fire on your mountain
Before the world falls asleep.
You people today -- who could fly so high
The center of the galaxy would be your belt,
Who would be as God --
But it is no business of mine."
He drank another drink.
The ice cubes melted and I shook centuries out of my head
To see Earth upturned, the sky burning,
This last mountain washed in a cool wind
While I reached through the smoke
And caught the stars -- for once --
Looking back at us in wonder.
Hafiz invited me to join him for a sip of wine.
Copyright © 2004 Danny Adams
Danny Adams was bewitched into writing early on by the works of Philip José Farmer, and the spell has never faded. He is a college librarian deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he lives on campus with his wife and inspiration, Laurie, and their two wicked cats. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.