Pale cirrus clouds shine in a gritty sky,
Where sand from the Sahara,
Six thousand miles away
But nearly the size of my country
Swirls above me unseen. 

Each year, the transoceanic winds
Carry this desert bounty
To fertilize Amazon rain forests,
Build Caribbean beaches, 
Sooth Atlantic hurricanes,
And turn our inland sunsets to flame. 

The translucent clouds wheel overhead
In the shell-pink sunset sky, 
Turning slowly, like the white woolen robes
Of whirling dervishes
I saw years ago in Cappadocia. 

Not Sufis themselves, of course; 
Those so avowed must not perform their sacred dance
For mere spectators.  I saw trained actors, 
Who must practice for years. 
Even the semblance must be perfect. 
I’m not sure it matters which rite you see, 
Art or worship, if heaven knows everything, 
And the true dance is in your heart. 

Turning, turning, turning.
The hypnotic chanting voices,
The music of ney, rabab, and oud, 
The flickering candles, 
A gray moth circling overhead,
Above the ancient stone walls
Of the caravansery at Sarihan.

The cool dry breeze,
The doves taking flight off the roof,
The soft flap of those twirling robes,
Spreading around the dancers like creamy petals, 
Unfolding, the solemn ritual rippling outward.
I carry it with me still, a world and an ocean away. 

Tonight the dancers visit me again,
In these numinous clouds, 
Spinning slowly under a crescent moon,
In a haze of sand from another desert,
Over my own green fields.