I Plead

The humble understand that hell is their proper abode
and they measure their worth in grains of ash.

Were it not for the questioning of others,
they could not bear the impudence of speech.
The clothes on their backs are borrowed;
their belongings, a momentary indulgence.

Their own names are a token of mercy,
and the dust they tread, a constant reproof.
For the humble see themselves as they would be:
were it not for the mercy of God’s grace.

Yet seeing themselves as handiworks of the Beloved –
and knowing perfection proceeds from perfection –

The gnat begins to flap his eagle’s wings!
the kitten lets out a lion’s roar!
the ant gallops on the field of battle!
and the drop merges with the deep, wide ocean!

The wretched one looks to himself, sees past himself –
finds the fabric of which he is made –
and the Tailor of that human garment.

Should a man fashioned of dust make any claims?
Can the mind, whose own workings are mystery,
assert the right to unfold Mystery?

Our tongues were fashioned by neither hand nor art;
it behooves us to ask the Maker of their proper use.

Humility is when a pupil seeing himself as pupil:
submissive and quiet before the Teacher’s call.

As dust, we know the earth to be our home,
from which we arose, to which we return.
As His, we know Paradise to be our destiny.

"And now do I say, `Verily we are from God,
and to Him shall we return.’"

A drop of ink has little reason to boast,
should the poet’s stroke immortalize a verse.
For the drop knows: even as they praise him,
their accolades belong to Another.