Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Francis and the Sow

For St. Patrick's Day, the day when all Americans say we're Irish and wear green (because who can tell where we're from, really?) a poem by a famous American poet with an Irish name, Galway Kinnell:

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Today is a day for buds, here in Ohio.  I can see them, tightly closed, on the lilac and forsythia.

I got up before dawn and got my kids started on the day, finding green shirts.  Today I would like to give each of you a hand on your brow, retelling you in words and in touch that you are lovely. Can you do something you don't usually do, to celebrate the coming of spring?  Drink a green beer!  Or have Indian food for dinner; that's my (very American) plan.

10 comments:

gotu said...

Sent offspring off to school with shamrock beads and a shamrock bobble headband.

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I love that image of the flower and self-blessing. I have nothing new planned today -- lots of old work to catch up on. But it is supposed to be in the mid-sixties, so even though the bed of crocuses is still covered in a pile of snow, I will find some time for a spring(ish)walk. Maybe I'll try a laying-on-of-hands on the daffodils, only two inches high. They could use a little help with self-blessing.

kittiesx3 said...

Today is our faux anniversary. 12 years ago someone in a gay bar in Atlanta thought Kent was my husband so we like to joke we got married there and then.

Maybe dinner out or I might make salmon, salad and cous cous.

FreshHell said...

I plan out our meals for the week in advance. Hopefully, there will be a greek salad in pita bread for dinner tonight. And I probably won't be doing anything new today. Which is fine by me.

Trapunto said...

Well I'm glad of this post because I have been feeling Welsh lately, and I missed St David's day. I could easily have missed St. Patrick's too. I'll kill two birds with one stone and wear a leek for my green.

Lass said...

I am in a very dark, broody mood today, so perhaps that is fitting for the day and my partially Irish heritage. But I am also eating some delicious mango mochi sent to me by a Hawaiian friend, just to avoid being a total cliche.

Jeanne said...

gotu, I love the enthusiasm!

Harriet, pets sometimes remind us that all growing things need some laying-on-of-hands.

Elizabeth, a faux anniversary sounds like fun; I think I would be tempted to serve near beer and mock turtle soup, or something.

FreshHell, when you have small children, knowing what to expect is nice. And greek salad in pita sounds good. I ended up having greek salad at the Greek/Indian place (Ron calls it the Alexander the Great restaurant). It was probably the power of your suggestion.

Trapunto, I actually (finally) looked up an image of leeks because I've always read about the Welsh wearing them but had trouble picturing how you would wear such a thing. And I found that they are indeed what I cut up and cook in soup; I don't fancy smelling that onion smell on my lapel for much of the day.

Lass, please try not to be a total cliche and end up drunk all the time like Francie's father in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or something.

Jenny said...

I went to a play on St. Patrick's Day -- perhaps the least St. Patrick's Day-y play I could have chosen. It was all about people killing each other in Iraq, and Robin Williams was in it! I forgot to wear green so pretty much the extent of my St. Pat's celebrating was getting groped by a drunk guy in Times Square.

Jeanne said...

Jenny, ooh, and was Robin Williams good as the tiger? It's wonderful that you're in the city that never sleeps with all the good theater. (Except for the groping on crowded streets)

readersguide said...

Where have I been? And Indian food for dinner sounds like a very good idea.