Annie Kantar

Over My Head

the call to prayer

I once mistook for prayer

wakes me.

And there’s the rug’s gold-

burgundy weave,

crown of spray and plume-like leaves

on the wall.

Less a maze of eyes,

more like a peacock flowering,

and the crimson contour in the middle—

it almost looks like a wine

glass overturned. My mistake,

not knowing this was meant

for kneeling,

made of threads and hands

from Damascus,

and forgetting the faithful

who wouldn’t touch such a glass and

funny it crossed my mind

this sharp red shape could


be the graven image

of liquid pouring out

into this cold hour’s air

and how odd to be up now,

knowing how little I know

of prayer.




Annie Kantar’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, as well as The Adirondack Review, The American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Birmingham Review, Cincinnati Review, Drunken Boat, Entropy, Literary Imagination, Poetry International, Poet Lore, Rattle, Tikkun, and elsewhere. Her translation from the Hebrew of With This Night, the final collection of poetry that Leah Goldberg published during her lifetime, was published by University of Texas Press (2011), and was shortlisted for the ALTA Translation Prize. She directs the English Program at Shalem College in Jerusalem.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí