Accepting Maya By Katie Khatereh Taher

we, this people, on a small and lonely planet *
with not much to do but wake each morning
and feed our earth based bodies
with telling lies that someday we won’t live

with suffering, that our loneliness will one day subdue
like the penguins who find their lovers and stay forever
as one, ‘till death do them part and death will part us
only thing i know about what i’m doing is one day dying

maybe then i’ll hear the tone of the moon speaking
to the tide, her soft voice which is soft only
because i want it to be
speaking of my rising, sun, and moon

as if we are not just atoms floating in space
into some other dimension in which we might be freed
might be trees, or might be even more hungry
as if we are not tiny gods sifting through worldly experience

for my part, i’m going to pick out marshmallow charms
out of my cereal and keep them for sadness
i’m going to listen to aged music about living
in the woods in a tree and happiness as a warm gun

that hangs between my brows, teasing me
like the moths teasing the cat next door
next, i feel disappointed about all the books
i’m never going to read and then delighted

by the the earth that holds me
but what do any of us know about compassion?
what do any of us know about anything
other than happy hour and poutine?
other than bureaucracy and netflix?

and what if happy hours spent
on this small lonely planet have nothing
to do with sandals on a patio with sangria
but everything to do with your bare feet

your mortal toes hugging star moss
your eyes wide open to roots
of our cosmic

* the first line of this poem is from Maya Angelou’s poem “A Brave and Startling Truth”

“All throughout my life I have found magic and intimacy in poetry, from my Persian family’s pride of Rumi and Hafiz, all the way to my fascination with contemporary poetry cultivated in poetry workshops led by my wonderful mentor Sheryda Warrener. During my undergraduate degree I published two small chapbooks, but creating this book, “memory is my name” felt much different… There’s something about the materiality of this book that feels more absolute and grounded. To have professional copies printed, and the possibility of people from all around the world having a copy has made it much more exciting!

The whimsical cover is a big part of this “absolute” feel. Abi Taylor and I, friends since our early teens, always played with the idea of creating a book together; her art, my writing. And so, when I began seriously working on this book, I knew the cover had to be her creation. It took us a while to get to the final version of the cover, and her patience and radical alterations are forever inspiring. The cover mimics an image that stays with me a lot, and is captured in many of the poems – our bodies floating on this planet, bodies in water, bodies in Light.

I’ve been living at Yasodhara Ashram for 13 months now – a community that celebrates the Divine Feminine, so the creative force of Goddess Saraswati has been a compelling influence on the artistic process! Many of the poems, and all the planning, editing, and finalizing of the book, was done at the Ashram, on the unceded territory of the Ktunaxa peoples. I feel so grateful, so lucky, so thrilled to have had the space and enthusiasm of everyone here. Many even joined me in writing poems at a weekly “poetry club”! I feel so much gratitude for all the Yasodhara Swamis, residents, and karma yogis for their continued support.

The poem “accepting maya” was written here at the Ashram and it so perfectly conveys many of the ponderings I have had inside the charm that is the Saraswati lineage. There’s a lot that has been unveiled for me while being at Yasodhara, both within myself and my aspirations, but also a newly found understanding of what it means to be human. I have frequently referred to this book as an offering of reflections on my position as an immigrant, artist, and spiritual seeker living in the material world—I think “accepting maya” carries that purpose.”

— Katie Taher is an Iranian-Canadian poet living at Yasodhara Ashram for the last year. She loves mangoes, watercolours, and willow trees. She also can’t get enough of Swami Radha’s teachings & will be participating in the 2022 Yoga Development Course.


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