The Art of Blessing the Day
By Marge Piercy
This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.
This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.
This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.
This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.
This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.
The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends'
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.
But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.
Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.
I spent a lovely Thursday with my family and dementordelta at two glorious du Pont estates in the Brandywine Valley -- Winterthur and Longwood Gardens. Though it's too early for azaleas and most rhodododendrons, there was plenty of blooming blue ground cover, plus glorious pink and white flowering trees and lots of tulips and hyacinth. Winterthur has carefully cultivated woods, a onetime golf course with daffodil traps, and a children's garden with a stone circle, fairy tale structures and a labyrinth; we spent a lot of time walking in the latter, then saw the brief movie before the tour (which we got all to ourselves because no one else arrived in the 15 minutes after we did) of Henry Francis du Pont's collections of American furniture plus wallpapers and collectibles from all over the world.
We had lunch in the little sandwich shop at Winterthur and visited the temporary exhibit on the furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts before going to Longwood Gardens, which currently has three amazing treehouses in the outdoor gardens, working fountains in the Italian Water Garden, and plenty of lilies and poppies in the conservatory as well as the bonsai, cacti, palms, acacia, roses and orchids. We visited the topiary garden and walked around the lake before we headed back toward home, stopping at the Maryland House because we had discovered that there's a Phillips Express there and we were in the mood for crab. Here are some photos from the fantastic Indoor Children's Garden at Longwood:
...here seen (at right) from the inside of the alcove with a dragon fountain that provides water with which to "paint" on the stone walls.
Adam attempts to avoid getting hit by flying jets of water arcing over his head.
There are many fountains in this area of the conservatory, from these large animals...
...to these much smaller flowers and lizards...
...to this birdbath-sized mother and baby bird.
In another alcove, this dry ice and water "cauldron"...
...is set into stones beneath this sculpture of snakes and stalactites.
I am very sleepy now since we didn't get back till after 9 and Adam had awoken me at 6:30 to get Japanese hot springs for our Superpoke penguins, so I must go collapse!