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Leticia Austria

Third Prize 2008 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest, and Best Rhyming Poem $350

About this Christian Poet:
Leticia Austria is a native of San Antonio, Texas. A pianist since the age of seven, she served on the staff of the Houston Grand Opera for fifteen seasons as a vocal coach, pianist, assistant conductor, and assistant chorus master. She left the world of opera when she followed a call to contemplative life in a Dominican cloister. It was in that monastic, meditative environment that she rekindled her childhood love for writing. Ms. Austria left the monastery after two years and is currently concentrating on the poetic craft.

About this Poem:
"A Pianist's Farewell Upon Entering the Cloister" was written during my time in the monastery, shortly before my reception of the habit, a ceremony which marks the beginning of the novitiate. Although I was still permitted to play the piano from time to time for very short periods of time, I decided that it would be easier to give it up altogether. It turned out I was right—a clean break is, in some cases, much less painful than a slow, drawn-out separation. And I found that although I left the piano, it has never left me. That is the true gift of music.

A Pianist's Farewell Upon Entering the Cloister

I never thought to leave you, friend,
Who were the very breath of me,
My working day, my restless night,
The steersman of my destiny.
I made a solemn vow to you—
Or was it you to me? Who knows?
It was so long a life ago
And thieving time too rapid goes.

Was ever there a day, an hour,
That was not colored by your voice?
You snatched me from the womb, I think,
Purloined from me all will and choice…
Ah, no, I tease you, dearest friend!
To you I may so freely speak,
For you have known my deepest deep
And bore me up to heaven's peak.

With you, I soared beyond my self;
Upon your keys I knew no fear
Of man, or dreams, or my own heart—
My aim was true, my vision clear.
Through you I gave my laughter words,
Through you I let my sorrow weep,
To you I told my greatest love,
And in you, let my secret sleep.

You were my solace and my strength,
My wise and faithful confidant.
Though now I live without your voice,
My memory its echoes haunt.
It must be so. If God wills we
Should meet again—I cannot tell.
I loved you, heart and soul and mind,
O truest, dearest friend. Farewell.

Copyright ©2008 by Leticia Austria