i’m in love with a woman
the man said to his friend

describe her to me
the friend asked,
how beautiful
how desirable is she?

the most beautiful
most desirable
i have ever seen

i love how her hair
whips and floats in the air
when the wind is strong

i love how her eyes
can be full of so much
pain and innocence

i love the ripe fruit
of her mouth
of its magic power
to form words
from the passage of air

i love the sound of her voice
especially when it’s very early
or very late
when it’s molten, hot, honey
flowing from her throat

i love the length of her arms
the way ligament
and muscle stretch
over knuckle bones
when she makes a fist

the smooth shell-pink petals
of her clean, clipped nails

i love the arch of her foot
the soft pads
of flesh beneath her toes
the moon
of her heel

but most of all
i love her smell
how it wafts, warm
and sweet
rising off her skin
and how she makes
every perfume
mingle fully with herself
and smell uniquely
her own

the friend became restless
come, you must
show me this woman
you talk about so passionately
i yearn to see her too

they walked through
narrow, dusty lanes
until they came
to the one
that led to her house

let’s wait here, the man said
and they sat cross-legged
under a tree

several hours passed
the friend became impatient
then suddenly
the man seized his arm

he said
there she comes
in her indigo cloak
and orange beads

a woman in blue
walked past
head lowered
gait modest

her clothing was poor
but very clean
she was
neither too old
nor too young
neither too fat
nor too thin

a plain and
simple woman
who had lived
at least four decades,
borne children
seen heartache
raised a family

bitterly disappointed,
the friend said to the man
she’s pleasant enough
but not so young

and so plain
so ordinary!

the man smiled
you don’t understand

she makes
flowers burst open
in laughter,
makes trees
speak to me 

because of her
when i see
the full moon
i weep

she’s turned me
into a happy lunatic
a drunkard
an addict

but i take, nor need
any other intoxicant 
the whole world
has become my drug

every song, every landscape
every morsel of fruit
every kind word
sends me into raptures

because i love her
i love the whole world
everything and everyone
in it now
is heart breakingly
beautiful to me

how can that be true?
the friend was incredulous
how can a woman as ordinary
as she seems
have such an effect on you?

the man shook his head
i can’t explain
language is not adequate
but it’s all we’ve got

i can only give hints
point at something
in the silence
between my words

so listen:

i don’t look at her
with my eyes
my eyes disintegrated
the first time i saw her

i started to fall apart

she’s cracked open
the shell
around my heart
and set my soul free

she could be
a crone
a beggar
a decrepit old man

it doesn’t matter
what the outer form is

what matters is
which has no form
no apt description
no book
no teacher even
who can explain it

sparks a fire
sets ablaze
one soul
from another

this is what’s burning
the old, dead trees
inside me

what’s left
is the sea of contentment
of our origin

with the light of this fire
when my soul
sees her soul

what else can i see
if not ravishing beauty?

what else can i do
except be in Love?

12th september 2013

Audio Recitation

from the upcoming book: "The Truth Is Love"
photo credit: Jim Nilsen,

for a copy of "Set My Heart On Fire" in pakistan nalayn publications
in South Africa intent publishing 

and internationally amazon


  1. This simply took my breath away. Stunning. Oh, to love the Essence of our Creator with such abandon. Wonderful, Shahbano. Again you leave me in awe of how you show us what is important. hugs, pat


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