The following poem was written in response to a visit to the The Pool of Sacred Fish (Balikligol) in Urfa, Turkey. This is the site where legends report that the prophet Abraham was thrown into a great fire by the polytheist king, Nimrod. According to the legend, after Abraham was thrown into the fire, two springs emerged from underneath his knees that extinguished the fire and spared his life. The story also reports that the burning embers of the fire turned into fish, and today two spring-fed pools are filled with colorful carp. When food is thrown into the pools for the fish it is easy to interpret their color and churning frenzy as fire-like. The pools grace the grounds of the Halil-ur-Rahman mosque, built in 1211 and now surrounded by beautiful gardens filled with families and pilgrims from throughout the Muslim world.  It was at this mosque that the individuals who were guiding the small group of Texans I was traveling with invited me to join them in prayer - a very moving experience.



The Source (Urfa)

Father Abraham
Knelt in the flames
Of his devotion -
Eyes ablaze
Heart over flowing.

Two springs rose
From below his steady knees
And washed the idols away -
Their clenched lips
Sealed against the flood -
Their stone studded eyes
Tumbling blind
From bloody altars.

And the fire’s glowing embers
Now churning
Burning like hungry fish -

All washed away,
Washed away.

Father of many -
Knife wielder -
Receiver of the Call -
Kneel with me!
Put your shoulder against mine!
Let us raise our voices together!

Oh, merciful –
Oh, compassionate One!

Let us fall forward -
Foreheads to the ground --
Let us feel the wash of time
Beneath us
And taste the cooling water -
The wash of goodness done
One thousand, million times.

Oh, generous One!
Lay down with us.
No jealous king
Can touch us here -
Amid the trembling reeds
And sweet grasses
Of your ever rising spring.

- Tom Spencer



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