07: An Invitation

Hello, lucky seven! Hello, lovely May.

I’m writing to you from the house where I began this newsletter, my sister’s home in Texas. I feel entirely new and entirely back where I started again. It’s so strange how much can happen in just four months. Worlds reroute. Paths shift. Love, failure, foolishness, fun. Beauty and terror, Rilke would say. It happened to me. It happens still.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like a flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

“Go to the limits of your longing” by Rainer Maria Rilke from THE Book of hours: Love poems to god (trans. Anita barrows & Joanna macy)

April always feels like the start of something new. This April intertwined with Ramzan and the release of my first book. On the first of April, the night before the first day of Ramzan, a bright little bookstore gathering I got to have with close family and friends to celebrate the launch of my debut poetry collection, My Grief, the Sun. And tomorrow, on the first of May, the last day of Ramzan, a bright little virtual gathering I get to have, hopefully, with you.

I feel blessed to bookend such a special month this way, to align time so auspiciously with the ushering of my little bird book into the world. And I’m so lucky to be joined in this ushering by the actual dream team that is Faith Arkorful, Farah Ghafoor, Sadia Hassan, Malvika Jolly, Victoria Mbabazi and Hua Xi. I am buzzing with excitement to introduce them all to you, to hear them read and read alongside them, and to be on the edges of their glowing, gargantuan light.

You can register here or hop on this direct Zoom link tomorrow at 1 pm EST.

That’s how they say light in Amsterdam

Like it’s something you take into your mouth, or begin to, something you can get close enough to lick

I thought light always had something to do with the eye, a thing you see when it’s open

I never thought it could be something you could reach out for, pluck out of its place in the universe and its order

What if the sun tasted like orange sorbet? The kind served one a single glass spoon?

What if the sun isn’t hot, iof it has no heat, if it doesn’t burn, if there are no bursts of fire or storms happening out there? Or anything, really, to fear up close?

If things aren’t set, if in the order of things a law can come loose

“Licht” by Souvankham thammavongsa from LIGHT

April also has meant a kind of business that makes time feel like it’s bursting at the seams. So I don’t have much more for you today except: See you later! Drink some water! Stand in the sun! Read a poem out loud! Kiss your own hand! Kiss your friend’s hand! Summer’s coming! More soon.

In the meantime, tell me about what you’re reading instead?

The moon did not become the sun.

It just fell on the desert

in great sheets, reams

of silver handmade by you.

The night is your cottage industry now,

the day is your brisk emporium.

The world is full of paper.

Write to me.

“STATIONERY” BY AGHA SHAHID ALI FROM THE HALF-INCH HIMALAYAS

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