In the morning, when it's seven,
sunrise leads us down the stony slope
of childhood to the river for water.
Above us the precipice of Qoaling,
where we live, juts like a forehead
over the valley and sends fingers
to map the terrain with erosion;
still, fruit here drops with the weight
of a heart, tired from fighting
the government. One day a spirit
entered me and sat on my heart
with its face of darkness, my arms
crushed under it like bramble.
That day I died for seven minutes,
and got to this place called heaven,
where they take you in if the sun
has quit giving you the rest of life.
To me, listening to the sound of stars
up there, sitting inside a symphony
of sitars, only meant that I was dead.
Six days later the world and its light,
the sun's irreducible heat, plus one
day set aside to while away time,
these had already been put in place
as I turned back and headed home,
to the wonders of a world that Egypt
ruled, as many wonders as any land
could stand, the will to erect things
built from the ground up; to this day
there are seven monuments, including
Babel, as well as Babylon's gardens
which hang from walls like perfumed
hair, as if seven, counted first as five
on one hand, then two on the other,
were the only number that chance
could give the lucky, as if the stone
the builder touches will come alive.
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