After retiring from 22 years at Ripon College, I have moved to the Berkshires with my husband and two spaniels. While I miss my students, colleagues, prairie walks, and skies filled with sandhill cranes, I am nourished by the beauty of the mountains every time I walk up the road or take a drive. Co-editor (with David Graham) of After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography (Graywolf), my most recent publications include Cooking With The Muse (Tupelo), SoFloPoJo, One, and Crab Orchard Review.
Say om for the first time.
Repeat it the way you say umm
as place holder for words
that escape you in your own tongue.
Feel vibrations butterfly
more deeply between breaths
as om becomes a-u-m.
Odd as the first time
you heard a poet announce her next
poem as if it were spelled pome
and wore a little halo above it.
Smile after you pronounce it that way,
lifting the corners of your lips
ready to receive. Think pomme,
an apple you might hold in the palm
of your hand and lift to meet
your third eye. Eat thought
until you are filled with
emptiness to the core.
Bring both palms together
above your head like a Buddha,
then down the center line to land
on your heart with its extra beat.
Let the landscape of your body
disappear. Hear how each word
carries its own extra beat
in a sea of words, its own additional
meaning you can see like letters
in an alphabet that begin
and return with a delicious
red “A” on a white page.
A is for apple, your first mantra.
“A” is for excellence. How
well-read you once tried to be
in Provencal poetry. The bee
flashes its stinger, a reminder of
the sweet juice dripping down
your chin in the French countryside.
For now we’ll call this practice
an exercise in mindfulness,
as close to prayer
as we skeptics can come.
Repeat after me: om.
© 2018 Kate Sontag
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