Rumi


The Pickaxe

Some commentary on I was a hidden treasure,
and I desired to be known:
tear down

this house. A hundred thousand new houses
can be built from the transparent yellow carnelian

buried beneath it, and the only way to get to that
is to do the work of demolishing and then

digging under the foundations. With that value
in hand all the new construction will be done

without effort. And anyways, sooner or later this house
will fall on its own. The jewel treasure will be

uncovered, but it won’t be yours then. The buried
wealth is your pay for doing the demotion,

the pickaxe and shovel work. If you wait and just
let it happen, you’d bite your hand and say,

“I didn’t do as I knew I should have.” This
is a rented house. You don’t own the deed.

You have a lease, and you’ve set up a little shop,
where you barely make a living sewing patches

on torn clothing. Yet only a few feet underneath
are two veins, pure red and bright gold carnelian.

Quick! Take the pickaxe and pry the foundation.
You’ve got to quit this seamstress work.

What does the patch-sewing mean, you ask. Eating
and drinking. The heavy cloak of the body

is always getting torn. You patch it with food,
and other restless ego-satisfactions. Rip up

one board from the shop floor and look into
the basement. You’ll see two glints in the dirt.

*translated by Coleman Barks

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