“Maybe there is no sublime…”

Yesterday afternoon I had to work. It was a Saturday. When I was near bursting with restlessness, I hopped a cab for an overdue rebellion– I escaped to the Poet’s House opening event in the lush environs of Rockefeller Park, a gorgeous space that’s worth the trek through the blocks of construction that encircle it. The line-up of poets on hand was just stunning, and I commend them all for sticking to their alloted time and reminding us just how little it takes to pack a major punch.

go!
go!

Natalie Merchant showed up with all of her graceful humility and pitch-perfect brilliance. Her free performance was the cherry atop a splendid homecoming for this soon-to-be-vital cultural center. In the past, I’ve heard Natalie beg audience members to abstain from obsessive cellphone photo-taking during concerts, and I wanted to honor the request this time around, too. (Especially since the county fair-like atmosphere of twirling toddlers and off-tempo octogenarian clappers didn’t feel conducive to a frenzied waving of cell phones in the air.) But I did allow myself some video-recording…of the sky.

Galway Kinnell read two poems that won my heart for the day; in honor of the event, I’m including here my all-time favorite of his poems. Find it, and more, on the Poetry Foundation’s website, as well as in his many books.

Saint Francis and the Sow

by Galway Kinnell

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 sheer 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.
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