Norman Allan
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Migwitch Hyra: Speaking in Tongues

When I was just a lad we moved cross
the great Atlantic to a strange city. There
we rented a home that came with a cat.
Pooh Cat, to look, an unprepossessing
cat, was a feisty tabby. She would sit on
the brick pedestal that housed the front gate
and dangle her paw to tempt taunt or claw
passing dogs. She once chased a friend's
spaniel yelping round the yard till rescued.
Pooh Cat became a friend. I seem to draw
them. Not friends: cats.
Pooh was eleven or twelve, my age.
One day coming home I found a lump
or bundle in my bed, beneath the blanket,
that purred when touched: Pooh and kittens.
Before that, though, I think it was
I found the cat curled up sleeping
in the closet, and I went and snuggled
my face, my nose, into her belly. And that
was the first true intimacy that I experienced.
And have I had any since?

Oh, degrees. But even when you said
I love you, I was distracted.

Ah but there's something else I want to speak
about some absolute meaning that's supposedly
in Sanskrit chants. Like these vibrations rock!
Words are symbols and don't have meaning
in themselves. But the Sanskrit bit, that here
there is power and meaning in the sound itself,
OM Sat Chit Ananda, the very breath of God.

So I was a little in an altered state the other
day but focused and here, somewhat present,
and saying goodbye to my dog Lucky, going
out, but stopped and crossed the room to put
my face to Lucky's side, on the couch, and
paused, and Proust into Pooh Cat a life ago
oh grace
now, right now,

Migwitch, Hyre, I said.

Migwitch is thank you in Annishnabi,
the language of this land.
Hyra. Hyra is a neologism
a slur of heart and hridi,
heart in Sanskrit.
Hyra is a private name I gave my dog.

Migwitch Hyra, I said to Lucky,
talking in tongues.