My mother was puzzling over this poem by Hafiz. Like much poetry, the best way to access the meaning is to sidle up to it and look at it from the corner of one’s eye.

The Salmon Run

I wonder how God ever gets any work done
when he could just be gazing at Himself
in awe all day? What discipline he shows.

I am talking about a real problem that will
challenge you someday, though you may
know nothing about that yet:

splendor taking over the place and rising
from your body like a sunrise–gods sitting
on a hill needing to bask in you. For it is true,
we help sustain existence.

All types of fishermen, merchants and seekers
will gather around you when you reach your goal.

They will be wanting to cast their nets into
the brilliant salmon run you become,

leaping into the sky, offering to take any near


First impressions: The fact this universe exists at all is marvelous. That life exists in all its forms — how can we not just sit around gazing in awe? It is a Mystery that anything is at all. We are part of it now in this form, we are gods sitting on a hill basking in it. We will also die, after which we become splendor taking over the place. We return to earth, participate in sustaining life. We are the fisherman, merchants and seekers casting our nets into life. The earth sustains us. And, if we are lucky enough to wake up — to realize we are one with everything — we can enjoy the Mystery all the more. There is no need to fear.

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