“I once wrote a letter to Hafiz,” I tell my friend Mary as we sit, COVID-safe, removing masks to have sips of the cocktails we’ve met for.
“I wrote Hafiz a letter. I wanted to ask him a question, so I figured I’d write him a letter.”
We are seated at Stanford’s. A bar/restaurant about 25 minutes outside of Portland, in Hillsboro, close-ish to Mary’s house. Just far enough from the freeway, but close enough to get traffic.
The yellow-cover Ladinsky translation of Hafiz’s poems sits on the table between us.
Neither of our spouses enjoys randomly opening the volume and reading pages to us. So with their blessings, we do this together. At a pause in the conversation, one of us picks up the 14th century’s Persian poet’s book and reads from a page.
I’ve just opened it to the poem entitled, “Now is the time.”
>Now is the time to know
>That all you do is sacred.
>Now, why not consider
>A lasting truce with yourself and God.
It’s as though I’ve seen a ghost. I put the book down.
Mary sees the shock on my face. And she knows that most every other poem is longer than four lines.
“What?” she asks.
“Fuck. That’s it,” I reply.
“That’s the whole poem?”
“No. Fuck, as in that’s it. That’s why I wrote to him.”
Mary sips her Stanford’s Signature Raspberry Lemon Drop—a martini glass of vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup topped with a raspberry-liqueur-filled, hollowed-out half lemon, which is straddling the top of the martini glass by way of a mini kabob stick.
Mary says, “What did you write?”
I’m lost in the synergy of a universe that is without malice, delightedly, like a parent watching a child, is beaming, seeing me. Joyously. I don’t answer.
I’m gobsmacked still at the synchronicity and enjoying the feeling.
Mary tries a different question, “How did you decide to write to him?”
I muse on the hallowed reverence we use to refer to him.
I regain myself and explain, “I was running a workshop a few years ago and asked the participants to write a letter to God. Something I do. Well, did. Now I start with them getting a letter from God. It’s easier. Anyway, a woman asked, ‘Would it be alright to write to Mother Teresa instead?’ I told her I loved it—Mother Teresa might feel a lot more approachable. So while the group wrote their letters, I wrote one to Hafiz.”
Mary coos, and I elaborate.
“I asked him for his secret or secrets. How he got to be so close with God. Or any secret he could or would share. Any guidance, advice, tips, you know? And then, after we processed the letters to God (and Mother Teresa), I had them respond to God (and Mother Teresa).”
Mary repeats her earlier question, “What did you write?”
The universe isn’t fucking with me. Never was. Never meant to. That’s not it’s game.
So, I tell her, “He wrote, Bwahahaha. I have no secrets. You know that, my darling.”
I finish my Cosmopolitan, which I will regret with tomorrow’s headache.
I realize there is something more Hafiz has told me.
“More recently he added this,” I say, “Why not consider a lasting truce with yourself and God?”