Rumi Appears at the Elementary Choir Concert

with a line from Daniel Ladinsky’s translation of “With Passion”

First it’s the kindergarteners on the risers:
three layers of giggle and squirm stuffed
into rufflesome dresses and button up shirts.

From the back row, Camille can’t see her mom.
The lights are too bright. She starts to cry
and wipes her nose on her purple sleeve.

And on the side, Suki nervously
lifts up and down her skirt folds of taffeta, red.
She is a poppy in a winter field bobbing in the wind.

At last, the director hushes the crowd,
turns to the children, reminds them to smile,
and raises her hands to begin

when Rumi runs across the stage with a tambourine.
“Come stand in front,” she asks him, politely,
but he begins, instead, to dance. “Why look like a dead fish

in this ocean of God?” he shouts and he spins
and spins and spins. And all the parents watch aghast,
wondering whose child he is. And hoping

their own child will stand still. Smile.
Sing in tune. Bow. And in a single file,
walk off stage at the end. Meanwhile, Rumi tosses

his tambourine into the crowd,
claps his hands when someone catches it,
and then picks up a violin.

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