Friday, January 11, 2013

Saint Francis and the Sow

Do you remember your loveliness?

Routine is a shelter I'm living under while the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder go on in this storm cell of pending possibility.   This year in our little home school, we are deeply into poetry appreciation.  No matter what time we make it to the dining room table, we begin with a reading from random collected works for children.  Today on our table we enjoyed Caroline Kennedy's A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poems for Children.  The collection is divided into themes, which was a new mini lesson for Elliot; he now understands that a theme is something that concisely explains the primary overarching meaning or what something is "about."  When I asked him to give me some examples of theme, he even included his own project, saying that the theme of Elliot's Ninjas is "helping."

We were enjoying the "animals" theme, deciding that some were silly, some were sad, and some were simple yet bright with colorful imagery.  Some poems were full of rhythm,  some full of nonsense.  The poems brought out the need for an explanation of history, like the loss of the buffalo or how people used to say "thee and thou" more than a hundred years ago.

Then, unexpectedly, I discovered a gem:



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 neccessary
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.

                                    Galway Kinnell

 

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