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tear at the edges

tear at the edges.

submit to the flow.

unzip and let it all subsume you.

to more than this existence, supreme to the form.

falling upwards, a bending of the soul.

feel the lift, erase the border.

pull back the splendid curtains.

the raw, the soul-molding, our origin and destination.

violence in the power, a jagged wave.

implode the corpus, explode into being.

the snap of a string, capillaries shatter.

crumble before the weight.

clutch the beautiful, the majestic.

blurred, body not yours.

strain, see, witness, emulate, ninety-nine, infinite, one.

open to the clarity, the complexity, the urgent, the divine.

thrown back, head contorting body, heart exploding, fizzing with infinity, the sight of







































and the bed, warm, awaits your return.

the body, when split, seeks repair.

on tear at the edges:


While composing this poem, I searched for music that I felt would best befit writing about the divine. I immediately was called to the soundtrack to Dune (2021), but couldn’t quite name why.

As I wrote, it became clear. 

The soundtrack to Dune is out-of-this-world, ethereal, and moving: full of sounds that you cannot identify. This appealed to me, but wasn’t the main reason for my selection; I soon realized that the reason I landed on the Dune soundtrack was because it is terrifying.

My poem plays with our conceptions of what it would be like to have a personal interaction with Allah or the divine — through the mi’raj, Muhammad’s journey to heaven to meet Allah. Additionally, within the poem there are allusions to the Asma ul-husna and the day of Alast, but that is not the main focus.

Opening with descriptions about being a part of something larger than yourself, tear at the edges plays with notions of islam and submission of the self. The first allusion to the mi’raj comes in lines 5 and 6, with “falling upwards” and “feel the lift” relating to Muhammad’s ascension to heaven, in the mi’raj upon a golden ladder — as described in Jan Knappert’s Myths and Legends of the Swahili, “before I knew what was happening we were flying through the clouds.” (Knappert 76).

The allusion to the mi’raj is continued, my “pull back the splendid curtains” referring to the “70,000 curtains separating the divine presence from the rest of creation,” which “were made from every conceivable substance or element” (Knappert 82). Once the curtains are pulled back, there is a description of what it would be like to encounter the divine. Here is where Dune’s terror makes sense. 

While we may want to imagine an encounter with the divine to be a wholesome and peaceful experience, in the mi’raj it is depicted as overwhelming. After all, if divinity is grand and all-encompassing, then experiencing it would be equally all-encompassing, transcending the human form and language.

It is this raw, transcendent interaction with power that I attempt to describe in the latter half of the poem, culminating in the apex of the encounter: the blank space. This is my way of dealing with the aesthetic problem of representing the divine: don’t. The blank space must be scrolled through, calling upon the witness of the poem to scroll, and contemplate the white space, and what they would construe as the divine, while doing so. 

The poem ends with a reference to the mi’raj, to a bed that is “still warm: no time had passed on earth” (Knappert 83), an abrupt, yet powerful testament to the transience of the journey.

All in all, tear at the edges reckons with ‘meeting’ Allah through a variation on the mi’raj, with the hopes of further interrogating the question of what it truly means to experience the divine.


note: reflection is from Week 4 Section readings

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