You Were Brave in that Holy War by Hafiz
by Steven McCabe
You have done well In the contest of madness.
You were brave in that holy war.
You have all the honorable wounds Of one who has tried to find love Where the Beautiful Bird Does not drink.
May I speak to you Like we are close And locked away together? Once I found a stray kitten And I used to soak my fingers In warm milk;
It came to think I was five mothers On one hand.
Wayfarer, Why not rest your tired body? Lean back and close your eyes.
Come morning I will kneel by your side and feed you. I will so gently Spread open your mouth And let you taste something of my Sacred mind and life.
Surely There is something wrong With your ideas of God
O, surely there is something wrong With your ideas of God
If you think Our Beloved would not be so Tender.
– The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the great Sufi Master
translated by Daniel Ladinsky
The smiling image of Jacqueline Kennedy in Dallas contrasting with the shock and horror she soon experienced has haunted me since my youth. Is it enough to say this Hafiz poem is about coming to terms with grief in a metaphysical context? I do not claim to be an expert on such things but with this project I attempt to address grief. I created digital variations of a coloured – pencil drawing of Mrs. Kennedy in Dallas, November 22, 1963. I used seven of these drawings for a collage series, including drawing & painting, on handmade Japanese paper for a 2003 exhibition commemorating the 40th anniversary of JFK’s death. The poetry video My Story Is Not My Own (below) continues the theme: