This Exploration of Beauty

(Excerpts from “Poetry Meets Photography” Exhibit featuring John Leslie Lange,  the author of “Hafiz and I,” a collection of poems inspired by the writings of the Sufi masters, Hafiz and Rumi and Julie Kruger, photographer and artist who specializes in dreamy landscapes populated by the emotions of love and longing. This presentation is a collaboration of their work in the form of a conversation between John’s poetry and Julie’s images).

~~  This Exploration of Beauty  ~~

“I’m swearing off love,”

I vowed to the darkness.

“I can’t stand the heartache,

And misery,

And pain of great loss.”

So I rose from my bed,

And departed the dreamscape,

Wandering a seashore,

Seeking answers to questions

That needed solving

Before morning.

And at the edge of that water

I found Hafiz singing

An intricate melody

That perfumed the moon,

And kissed it goodnight

As it sank past infinity

At the edge of the world.

And as stars emerged into brightness

To light wave tops and shoreline,

I settled beside him

And took in the breathing

Of waves on the sand.

“I’m lost,” I admitted,

“Can’t find solace in slumber.

Love’s puzzle just plagues me.

Keeps me riddled with doubt.”

Hafiz only laughed

And pressed a shell to my ear.

And as I listened I heard

Voices scattered, like driftwood,

Over beaches of centuries,

Eternal wisdom of ancients,

Mixed in with the waves.

“You think that your head

Gets to choose what you feel?

Your heart is your empress,

And love’s no democracy.

Be grateful that hearts

Rule like mystics and gypsies,

Follow feelings and urges,

Their motives a mystery.

For love is the magic

That changes music to rubies

Weaves silver through poems,

And sets fire to dreams.

Our job in this life

Is to feel our humanity

And so become closer

To our maker’s divinity.

That’s why this affliction,

This exploration of beauty,

This human condition

We call love, is divine.”

Out over the ocean,

The clouds drifted in moonlight,

And my heart

Slowed its beating

To rhyme with the waves.

~~  John Leslie Lange  ~~

(From the project “A Conversation: Poetry Meets Photography”)